Monday, September 03, 2007

Media Companies – Sacking Machines

Recently, a friend drew my attention to a news article hidden in the folds of a leading national daily, asking me if I knew anything about the person mentioned. I looked down at the article pointed out and read on -

deepika tiwari Saurabh Sinha rishi gaind vynsley fernandes star news aaj tak ndtv zee tv jobs vacancies suicide termination resignation sackingA journalist from Zee News named Deepika Tiwari had committed suicide at her home in Gurgaon on the 29th of August. Her family suspects that she did this because she was out of a job for a long time. Deepika had resigned from her job as a News Anchor for Zee News in April 2006 and had been unsuccessfully looking for a job since then.

This article took me back to an infamous incident that was talked about in media circles a few years ago. The concerned news channel was Star News. This ‘event’ happened when the channel was making a transition to its ‘sensational gossip’ avatar. Aaj Tak’s shrewd Uday Shankar had recently replaced upbeat Ravina Raj Kohli and the BJP Alliance had recently lost the Lok Sabha elections.

deepika tiwari Saurabh Sinha rishi gaind vynsley fernandes star news aaj tak ndtv zee tv jobs vacancies suicide termination resignation sackingThe employees of Star News, New Delhi, had filled in their annual appraisal forms and were expecting a good raise because of the increase in channel viewership and advertising profits. The telephonic interview of each employee with his or her boss and HR based in Mumbai had also gone well. Emails and word of mouth promised a good increase in salary. Many employees had made plans to buy a new home, vehicle or to get married.

Every Star News employee was eagerly waiting for the day when the increment letters would be handed out. On the fateful day, Rishi Gaind (HR head), Saurabh Sinha and Vynsley Fernandes arrived from Mumbai with the so called ‘increment’ letters. Employees were called into a room for a face-to-face interview where the increment letter would be presented to them. Some folks got a letter with a marginal increase in pay. However, many others were rudely told to submit their resignation letter mentioning that they had some ‘personal problem’ as the reason for leaving.

deepika tiwari Saurabh Sinha rishi gaind vynsley fernandes star news aaj tak ndtv zee tv jobs vacancies suicide termination resignation sackingThe main reason they were not given the pink slip straight off was because there was a clause in the employment contract that said that if the company terminated employment without notice then they would have to pay the employee three months salary. The employees were so shocked and upset that they wrote and submitted their resignation letters immediately. If you ever wanted to see grown men and women cry, then the high-rise balcony of the Star News office was the place to be. People who had been working their butts off in all sorts of shifts for hours on end, had had their dreams shattered in an instant.

Later on, this sort of treatment became a common practice in media companies. The increasing number of graduates from mushrooming media schools and the high demand for a ‘glamour’ job, lead to employees being treated like crap in most news channels. Many left to pursue jobs in other fields because of the fear of getting sacked for no reason at all.

Currently, most news channels are staffed by interns or trainees who receive a pittance for a salary. They are replaced whenever the placement cells of media institutes ‘contact’ news channels for giving ‘work experience’ to their fresh batch of students. Those employees who have permanent jobs usually have high political connections or years of experience.

Here is a word of advice to people who have just got sacked from a News Channel in India –

  1. It is not your fault. Nothing you could have done could have made them change their mind.
  2. They do this every year to many employees. Today it was your turn; tomorrow it will be someone else’s.
  3. Look for another job in any field. Don’t think that you were a ‘top journalist’ and what will people think if a famous ‘Aaj Tak’ reporter stooped to an ordinary job. It does not matter – no one recognizes you anyway!!!
  4. Pray hard. You will get something much better than a News Channel and then you will be thankful you lost your job.
  5. Don’t commit suicide. It will have no effect on your former bosses. They will just hush it up in the press. Your loved ones will end up bearing all the pain.

I am too late to save a Deepika Tiwari, but I hope this article helps some other person in need. If you need any more information or help, email me at

Does anyone else have any information about similar happenings in other news channels or media companies?


  1. shocking!!!

    thank God, i am into IT

  2. Yeah I know of people in 'Today' a tabloid by India Today Group, who were recently asked to resign, Gross injustice that!

  3. Saying quick hello today,still need to rest!:))

  4. Most companies in the private sector use this 'informal' modus operandi, whenever they want to terminate an employee's services. In this way, they don't have to pay whatever amount they would have had to, as stipulated by the contract, had they served the employee with a notice of termination.

    This is a huge racket that the lawmakers should do something to put an end to.

    Thanks for bringing this vital issue to the fore!

  5. This is shocking!!! unbelievable!!!! It reminds me of 15 Park Avenue movie but there it was not suicide but yes ...being away and alone to a remote place on job and what she gets is raped several times by several political people!
    Very sad !!!

  6. Really sad. I hope this post will help many. often we always think it is our fault.

  7. Hi Everyone,

    Thanks for your comments. I recently got an email from an aunt of Deepika Tiwari. It said -


    My name is Archana Tiwari Sarish and I am one of Deepika's Aunt. Her death is such a shock to us in the family that we don't know where to start. Needless to say, we are confused with this huge step taken by my niece, and we are very interested in learning more about Deepika's industry and how much of an impact this may have had in her death. Please tell anyone that may know more about this too contact me and If you could help in any way it would be truly appreciated.

    With Kind Regards,


    Anyone who has more information about this incident can contact Ms.Archana at

  8. what a pitty!!
    and it is sooo kind of you to write your email address for their help.
    i cant do such great things :)

  9. U know whts ironic, that this is happening in the media field and noone knows abt it...hmmmm

  10. yes, it is a reality, job pressure is always eating your mind... being in advertising i can see the point of view... hope nobody commits suicide anymore, thanks for the valuable post...and yes, thanks for the 'nice' award feted to me. indirectly, u r responsible for that :)

  11. The old days ...with the news at 9pm on national tv were much glam-sham models reading news with a fake accent.
    And yes there was Pranoy Roy with The World This Week...they don't make news programmes like those anymore.

    And yes, feeling really sad 'bout Deepika.

  12. As i write this, there is another news item about another journo having committed suicide - this timein Sec 19, Noida.

    I first heard abt employment malpractices in the media thru Mrinal Pande's autobiography. Apparently, this is one unbridled industry where there are no ethics wrt marketing the "news" and no ethics in employment practices either.

  13. :O?wtf man!

    Thanx for sharing this!

  14. Hey

    Was reading your article about 'Media Companies Sacking Machine' and was just curious to know if you are working for Star News and do you know Vynsley Fernandes?

  15. About that other journalist who committed suicide, here is some information -

    Her name is Priya Singh and she worked as an anchor with Total TV. In her suicide note she has said that she had been harassed by Output Editor Tapan Bharti and Producer Umesh Joshi and removed from her position as a news anchor. For more details click here.

  16. Thanks for making the effort for this post. I appreciate it. Here's a message for any person who has lost a job: Hey, it is not the end of the world! Those who don't want your talent are not worth working for anyway! Please take a few weeks to plan something new. The Internet is providing many new journalistic options, and I will be happy to help you get started in some way. You can learn more from here:

  17. Hi, i am looking for a friend i lost touch with a few years ago. When i was looking i found your article about Deepika's suicide which has shocked me to the core. I really hope its not my friend. Could you tell me if this is the same person Deepika Tiwari that was on Zeeindiasbest a few years ago and was originally from Lucknow?

  18. I believe this is the same person that you are looking for. Deepkia was on Zee and she was from Lucknow. Please respond to the email above to let her aunt know how you knew her.


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