The India Today Group has terminated the contract of Angshukanta Chakraborty, the political editor of its opinion and commentary platform, DailyO after she refused to delete a tweet from her personal account.
Chakraborty had put out a tweet in which she criticised media promoters for turning a blind eye to “hate-mongering, fake news spreading” TV anchors and editors on February 4. The tweet seemed to hit a bit too close to home for the India Today Group as various anchors, journalists at the news organisation had been accused of spreading misinformation and hate on social media.
Altnews has even published an article that highlights the multiple instances misinformation or fake news was reported by various affiliates of the India Today Group.
According to a report on the Wire, Chakraborty was told by the organisation to either delete the tweet, resign or face termination. After Angshukanta refused to delete her tweet, India Today reportedly held two meetings with her to reconsider, after which they gave her the three choices.
“I decided I won’t resign, and I should not own up to any guilt, I don’t think I’m guilty,” Chakraborty told Scroll. “So I said that termination is the only way out. And so they gave me a letter of termination.”
India Today Group’s social media policy
According to the Wire, on January 3, employees received a mail from the group’s management reiterating its social media policy and asking everyone to add a disclaimer that “the views expressed by them and retweets made are in personal capacity”. Chakraborty, like most employees, complied with the policy.
The management also implied that they didn’t wish to censor their employees’ social media accounts. “We respect that freedom of expression and repose full trust that our influencers will never cross the line on compromising basic communication courtesy while sharing views and opinion from their personal handles.”
Chakraborty told Scroll that her tweet did not violate 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.
In a statement released to the media, the company defended its actions saying:
“Angshukanta Chakravorty’s services were terminated due to breach of editorial conduct. The India Today Group prides itself in being the gold standard of credible journalism. Our Code of Conduct is sacrosanct across all our mediums, including social media. Actions contrary to our editorial ethos have no place in our organisation. As was done in this case, the concerned employee is counselled multiple times prior to taking any action. The violation is also investigated by an internal panel and taken to logical conclusion. This individual case, being presented in any other manner, is mala fide and should be understood as such.”
Chakraborty’s parting shot
As a response to India Today’s public statement, Chakraborty took to Twitter to post her own statement on Wednesday slamming the organisation for ‘unlawfully’ terminating her contract.b
Chakravorty says that she was never asked for any explanation by any “internal panel” and neither was she aware that such a panel existed. Below is an excerpt from her tweet.
“India Today has not only acted unlawfully, but has also victimised me for exercising my right to freedom of speech and expression, which is guaranteed by the Constitution under Article 19(1)(a), which I have used to call for abiding by basic principles of journalism. My tweet, posted through my personal handle, is completely in keeping with the ‘gold standard of journalism’ which India Today professes to uphold. It was a moral comment on the general state of the media, which has been of late weighed down by fake news.”