A news was floating in Patna and journalism fines since last week – Bihar edition of English newspaper The Telegraph is going to be closed. On the morning of 14 December, when the hawkers threw bundles of newspapers into the houses, this news came out true. On the left front page of The Telegraph, a large number of information of 11 words was printed – Bihar version of The Telegraph will be closed from 15 December 2018.
Last year, along with Jharkhand, Hindustan Times also announced the closure of its edition in many other states. It included editions of Ranchi, Bhopal, Kolkata and Indore. Apart from this, Hindustan Times also closed its Varanasi and Allahabad bureau.
The readership of The Telegraph in Bihar was not very large, but whatever it was, this news was going to cause disappointment for them. Ashutosh Kumar Pandey, a regular reader and social activist of this newspaper, says, “The newspaper is lying in front of me and now I am worried about what I will read from tomorrow.”
Pandey says, “The Telegraph has had its own credibility. Newspapers should play the role of opposition and Telegraph lives up to this role. As a reader, when I read it, it seems that it is an essential newspaper in the present times. The closure of such a newspaper in this period is like going silent. ”
It is reported that along with the Bihar edition of The Telegraph, the Odisha edition and APB Group’s new novel tabloid ‘A Bella’ printed in Bangla from Kolkata has also been discontinued. ABP Group is the largest media group in Eastern India. It has three news channels and about a dozen newspapers, magazines and tabloids, including Anand Bazaar Patrika (Bangla), The Telegraph. Apart from this, book publishing is also a big business of this group.
The Telegraph had a bureau office in Bihar and the newspaper used to be printed from Kolkata itself. The main reason for the closure of the newspaper from ABP Group’s Kolkata Headquarters is that the Bihar edition has not been reported to be ‘economically profitable’. Deepak Mishra, bureau chief of the Bihar edition of the newspaper, says, “We have been told from the management that the Bihar edition of The Telegraph is not financially profitable. I do not know about the economic aspects of the newspaper, so I will not comment on them. But as far as the news is concerned, we have done a great job. ”
He further said, “We exposed the shortcomings of the Bihar government and also gave appropriate space to the opposition. We also got several revolvers highlighting the shortcomings of the government, but pressure was never put on us from the government. ”
According to the information that came from the headquarters of the staff of the Bihar edition of the newspaper, according to demonetisation and then GST, the business of the newspaper and media was already stuck in a bad crisis. For this reason, ABP Group has had to close the Bihar and Odisha version of The Telegraph.
However, journalists in the Bihar edition of the newspaper do not think so. A journalist associated with The Telegraph, on the condition of anonymity, said that in recent months, the Bihar edition was given a new target of profit. According to the journalist, the newspaper earned Rs 7 crore from the Bihar government last month, after which the new target of Rs 9 crore was given by the management.
There were about 25 people working in The Telegraph’s bureau office in Patna. There were 6-7 reporters in these and the rest were employed in circulation, advertising and other departments. The Telegraph management has assured 6 months salary to all employees.
However, The Telegraph’s entry into Bihar was not very old. It started in 2010. It can be said that this version was attained in its infancy. Initially, there were 9 reporters here, but in later years their number decreased. Another journalist attached to the bureau office said, “There was a shortage of reporters in the bureau office, but still the small team was working with all the hard work and dedication. The Bihar version was not beneficial, it is difficult to believe. ”
However, on behalf of the ABP group, the staff was not told earlier that the newspaper was going to be closed. However, the manner in which the circulation number of the Bihar edition was being cut, there were indications that the circumstances were not favorable.
When the newspaper started from Bihar in 2010, its circulation had reached around 22 thousand in a very short time, which was a good number. But after the demonetisation of November 2016 and then GST, its circulation numbers started to decrease.
Another journalist associated with The Telegraph (Bihar) said that till one and a half years ago there were 22 thousand circulation. Gradually, its number was reduced to 14 thousand and now only 8 to 9 thousand copies were being left in the market. A hawker told that they were given as many copies as they could be sold in the market.
What was the discussion?
Last year itself, the ABP group was also in the discussion about retrenchment of large number of employees. In February last year, 700 employees associated with the group were discharged. Since then, the employees of this place were in danger of losing their jobs. A 16-page newspaper used to come out of Bihar, in which the news of Bihar used to be in 3 to 4 pages.
This decision of ABP Group can also be understood from the advertisement received in the newspaper. Most of the advertisements in the newspaper were centralized, that is, the advertisement which was received in the Kolkata edition of The Telegraph was also printed in the Bihar edition. Means local advertising from Bihar nominal
Was getting From this, it is clear that the newspaper could not build a reliable revenue model in Bihar. Above all, there was also the harsh attitude of the Bihar government, which used to give very little advertisement to this newspaper.
According to information received from Bihar’s information and public relations department, on December 13, a total of 46 advertisements were issued by the department for December 14, but The Telegraph received only 3 advertisements and that too was classified.
Similarly, on December 12, the Bihar government released a total of 86 advertisements (classified, tender and display), which were to be published on December 13. Of these, only one advertisement was received by The Telegraph. The conditions of the advertisements of other days were more or less the same.
In contrast, Hindi newspapers get a lot of advertisement. Perhaps this is the reason why the news related to the flaws of the government is not published prominently in Hindi newspapers. The Muzaffarpur Shelter Home is a witness to the incident reporting. The news related to the entire matter started to be published prominently by the local Hindi newspapers when this news started making headlines at the national level and the local media of Bihar came under the scanner.
Instead of Hindi newspapers, The Telegraph used to get proper place for news. The game of hiding facts has never been shown in this newspaper, so there were dedicated readers of this newspaper. People of Patna say that the newspaper’s attitude towards power was critical from the very beginning. The Telegraph broke many big news, after which the government came into action.
One such report was published in 2011, after which CM Nitish Kumar took all DM’s classes. In fact, the Nitish government had directed all the districts to DM to set up a regular court and be present and listen to the grievances of the people. Ignoring this order, DM used to send his subordinate officers. The Telegraph had published a detailed report on this, after which Nitish Sarkar again issued a written order.
Similarly, The Telegraph published a news report on the murder of Municipal Police Superintendent KC Surendra Babu in Bhim Dam Sanctuary on 5 February 2005. After this news, the murder case was re-investigated. On 5 February 2005, while passing through the Bhim Dam Sanctuary, there was an explosion in a landmine, in which the SP was killed.
In this case, the police arrested three people.
After a legal process that lasted for five years, in 2010, the three were acquitted by the court from all charges, termed innocent. A few days later there was a news report in The Telegraph stating that there was a lapse in police investigation and there is enough evidence in the case on the basis of which the blame can be proved.
The case was reopened after this news was published. The then IG (Bhagalpur range) AK Ambassador was entrusted with the investigation on behalf of the police headquarters.
Nalin Verma, who was part of the team that started The Telegraph from Bihar, says, “The closure of any newspaper is a sad incident.” Newspaper is very important for democracy. Newspaper is the voice of common people. The closure of the newspaper is the end of one platform of Awam. ”Nalim Verma is currently teaching in a university in Punjab.
Neeraj Gupta, a resident of Kahalgaon in Bhagalpur, is one of the murid readers of The Telegraph. He says, “I don’t know what I’ll read now.” The Telegraph used to have quality news compared to Hindi newspapers. It is a matter of the fact that the number of news was less, but whatever was the news, there was novelty in it. ”
At a time when a large part of the media has become a courtier, or is eager to be formed, then it is very important for those newspapers to be alive, which should give a true picture of the country, state, society and governance.