Ever since the biggest ever deal in the Indian media sector was announced on May 29, 2014, with Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) acquiring control in Network18 Media & Investments Ltd, including its subsidiary TV18 Broadcast Ltd, for Rs 4,000 crore, the spate of departures from the group has continued.
Network18 Group CEO B Sai Kumar, COO Ajay Chacko and R.D.S Bawa, the CFO, had moved on from the company in quick succession a few days preceding the announcement.
Raghav Bahl announced his exit on May 30.
There had been much speculation about the couple ever ever since the CNN-IBN editor Rajdeep Sardesai announced that he was going on long leave.
His wife, the channel's deputy editor Sagarika Ghose went public with her exit on Twitter yesterday:
Goodbye CNNIBN. God bless!— Sagarika Ghose (@sagarikaghose) July 3, 2014
This is the farewell letter she sent to her colleagues on Thursday, July 3:
Hi there folks,
I never thought I would be writing this mail.
CNNIBN has not only been an integral part of my life for almost every waking minute these past years, but more important, working with you has been a joy and an honour. But now--after almost a quarter century in journalism, among them 9 fabulous years at CNNIBN--I leave to try my hand at something a little more challenging and creative, explore new vistas in reportage and commentary.
At CNN-IBN, an incredible team of professionals brought total commitment and integrity to reporting the news. We put journalism first and because of that we became a trusted and much loved brand. A free fearless press is the infrastructure of democracy--without it the term “citizenship” is diminished indeed.
The words of John Tusa, the venerable former director general of BBC World Service come to me: “Journalists cannot become the outriders of authority...but the freedom we have is the freedom to be responsible."
CNN-IBN was always free and responsible! That’s why it became such an incredible success, so beloved of viewers. We created magic and that magic touched millions of lives, and the magic will remain with each of us always!
Good bye is an unhappy word. I prefer au revoir..until we meet again.
Warmest wishes and all the very best of luck always,
Her husband announced his departure today:
After 9 wonderful years, time to move on from IBN 18. Will miss all my colleagues who made it so special.— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) July 4, 2014
Some of you ask: what next. All I can say, watch this space: phir subah hogi! Much to do!— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) July 4, 2014
@suchetadalal maybe a book first!!— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) July 4, 2014
This is the farewell letter he sent to his colleagues, with a reference in the opening paragraph that perhaps sums up the reasons why this departure had become necessary under the new dispensation: "Editorial independence and integrity have been articles of faith in 26 years in journalism and maybe I am too old now to change!"
my dear friends,
This is one of the toughest letters to write. After nine wonderful years at IBN 18, its time to say goodbye. I must confess its not easy to leave a baby that one has helped create/build/grow and to leave such great colleagues. But I guess certain things in life are written in the stars. Editorial independence and integrity have been articles of faith in 26 years in journalism and maybe I am too old now to change!
I would though like to look at the brighter side, the many happy times we have all shared. I still remember when we decided to set up an English news channel: we had one chair and a table, and no one gave us a hope in hell. I recall an advertising executive watching our pitch and asking why we were even attempting a new news channel. But madness and a passion for journalism as defined by the spirit of "whatever it takes" can break many a wall: we eventually did it! CNN IBN was a remarkable success: in nine years, we achieved the seemingly impossible in the news business: ratings, revenue, but most crucially, RESPECT for our journalism. I am told that our awards tally is now over 200, more than all the other channels put together! This year's election coverage was a good example of what we have been able to achieve: a friend in CNN said he would have been proud to put together such a formidable line up of programming.
IBN 7 had a more difficult period in a highly competitive market, but again I can look back with pride on the achievements of the channel. We had a fire in the belly as typified by the tagline "khabar har keemat par'. I remember in a small town in UP when an elderly gent came to me and said, "sir maan gaye, aap hee ka channel hai jo na mayawati ko na mulayam ko chhodta hai!" And thank you to the IBN 7 newsroom for helping me improve my Hindi to the point where I could maybe anchor in Hindi one day!
and then to my friends in IBN Lokmat: you guys in many ways are the real rockstars. You overcame every challenge to build a channel of substance. You created programming that won awards at the national level and stories that made the people of Maharashtra sit up. "Chala Jag Jinkuiya": truly you showed what the true spirit of journalism can do. My dream was that one day we would have similar quality channels in every Indian language: that dream must wait another day!
None of all this would have been possible without the freedom one enjoyed at Network 18. For that I am eternally grateful to the leadership. Above all, none of this would have been possible without the professionalism that each and every one of you has shown. Television news is the ultimate TEAM game: I know the hard work that every one of you put to build this network: from OB drivers and engineers from video editors to video journalists to the newsroom, each of you deserve the highest acclaim for being there 24 x 7, through winter mornings and summer evenings.
Forget the cynics, journalism my friends is a great profession. Good journalism makes a genuine difference to the world by offering a mirror to society. Our stories have exposed corrupt netas and forced ministers to resign; we did stories that got jobs for the disabled, land to the landless, justice to acid attack victims. Hell, we even pioneered the idea of citizen journalism and of India Positive and Real Heroes to showcase an India that otherwise is lost in the noise of breaking news. Yes, putting news above noise, sense above sensation and credibility above chaos must remain a credo forever: else journalism will lose its moral compass. I hope the new management will always put journalism first and I wish them well.
I don't want this note to be too long, (editors takes can get awfully long-winded) so I shall end here. I shall leave you with a Hindi film song which I believe should be a life philosophy: Aadmi musafir hai, aata hai aur jaata hai, aate jaate raste pe apne yaadein chhod jaata hai.. I hope, in my own small way, I have touched you on life's journey; you guys certainly have made be a better person. I will treasure the memories of what must be nine of the best years of my professional life. As I move on, I have no doubt our paths will cross: the friendships and warmth will endure forever. Thank you for the memories,
P.S. am sorry if I would occasionally call at 3 am in the morning. Blame it on being a news junkie. And remember, every time there is a spelling mistake on the ticker, my ghost will haunt you!!