According to media reports quoting the journalist, The India Today group has fired a journalist because of a tweet in which she criticises media promoters for turning a blind eye to “hate-mongering, fake news spreading” TV anchors and editors.
Angshukanta Chakraborty, the political editor of DailyO, a website dedicated to commentary and analysis that is part of the India Today group, said she was terminated from the company on Monday after refusing to delete the tweet.
Promoters turning a blind eye to hate-mongering, fake news spreading news anchors, editors, reporters and writers, or hiring them in the first place, must be tried in courts as hate speech enablers-profiteers. Must be boycotted socially by secular politicians & Industrialists.
— Angiography (@angshukanta) February 4, 2018
According to Chakraborty, the tweet was not targeted at any organisation in particular. “I wrote this because this is what was happening in the media,” she said. “It was not directed at any organisation or any individual. It was a generalised statement and I stand by it. It didn’t get many RTs or anything and it wasn’t even my pinned tweet… yet I got a call asking me to delete it because management was unhappy.”
Chakraborty said that she refused to delete her tweet because she did not think she had done anything wrong, and stood by what she said. She subsequently was part of two meetings in which she was asked to reconsider her choice, with the knowledge that the management was unhappy. She says it seemed to die down after that, but then on Monday, she got a call from Human Resources in which they offered her three options, delete the tweet, resign or face termination.
“I decided I won’t resign, and I should not own up to any guilt, I don’t think I’m guilty,” Chakraborty said. “So I said that termination is the only way out. And so they gave me a letter of termination.”
Chakraborty says her tweet did not fall afoul of India Today’s social media guidelines. “It was in compliance with social media policy, it was not ad hominem, no one was tagged, it was not abusive, and moreover, it was written by someone who makes a living by making political commentary,” she said.
Per India Today’s guidelines, given to employees when they join, staff are expected to put a disclaimer on their Twitter bios that views and retweets are “made in personal capacity”. Chakraborty said her bio reflected this, and she only changed it after her termination. A recent email to staffers in fact, specifically asked all journalists in the group to make this clear and even gave them a deadline in January to do so, prompting some unhappiness within the newsroom. The policy has been used to police the tweets of a number of journalists within the group.
Chakraborty said she wanted to ask if the India Today management’s response to her tweet amounted to an admission of guilt. She claims her tweet, about promoters turning a blind-eye to “hate-mongering, fake news spreading news anchors, editors, reporters and writers” was not aimed at anyone in particular. “I haven’t tagged anybody, I haven’t mentioned anybody, yet they had a problem, is this an admission of guilt?” she said. “Is this a way of admitting guilt?”