The controversy around veteran journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta's resignation from the Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) magazine saw further developments, with Thakurta submitting a rejoinder to the magazine staff questioning his behaviour when he was their editor.
The staff of EPW had reportedly sent a letter to Sameeksha Trust, the entity that manages the journal, on 25 July questioning the certain decisions Thakurta made as an editor. A central concern amongst the issues raised was the removal of an article about the Adani Group from the EPW website. Regarding that issue, Thakurta congratulated his former colleagues for rightly perceiving the removal of the article 'Modi Government’s ₹500 Crore Bonanza to Adani Group Company' as an encroachment on editorial autonomy.
Barring this instance, the rest of the letter has Thakurta defensively explaining his editorial choices. "My silence on the points raised in the letter have been interpreted by some as my tacit acknowledgement of the claims made by some of my former colleagues. This is far from correct," he starts off in the letter.
He said that what pained him the most were the claims that he used sexist language in the workplace. Thakurta added that no formal complaints were made about him regarding the issue. "That this is being made an issue now seems like it is part of a bigger agenda to malign me personally," he said.
He also addressed the allegations that he favoured his close associates by paying them substantially more than other contributors. Thakurta said that the articles were "not the typical articles contributed to the EPW for which the authors are paid token amounts", adding that the pieces were "specially assigned". He went on to mention a grant the magazine received for its digital edition, which was specifically meant for "corporate investigations" and "web exclusives". He said that a donation he had raised for corporate investigations was withdrawn "due to his resignation". He mentioned two instances of his alleged favouritism, explains the reasoning behind it and added that the two authors are yet to be paid for their pieces.
On the issue of undermining the review process, the former EPW editor said that he exercised his "prerogative as an editor to shorten the review process" in "barely a handful of articles". Thakurta went to speak about the issue of signed articles, "I have never been ashamed of the fact that for the forty years I have been a journalist, I have been a reporter for much of the time. Over and above the articles I authored or co-authored, I had during my tenure as editor been responsible for publishing close to two dozen articles that may be described as "investigative" in nature." He went on to claim that his articles attracted "more than the usual number of readers to the website" and that "not a single fact published had to be retracted or were contradicted."
The former EPW editor also raised concerns about his EPW email account being blocked and said that he hoped that his account "will not be tampered with." Thakurta concluded by saying that, "EPW is far bigger than any individual and will always be that way."
Read the full letter here:
Published Date: Aug 03, 2017 08:00 pm | Updated Date: Aug 03, 2017 08:18 pm