Scoop – Why was Prof Nageshwar let go from Hans India?


Nageshwar leaving hans india

Prof K Nageshwar quitting Hans India as Editor is passé. But the way he was shamed before being shunted out is making rounds in media circles. It was not just bad blood between the academic and the management that led to his resignation. There is more to it than meets the eye.

When the professor took over the reins of the young English daily, on November 7, 2014, he had the dubious distinction of being an academic to head a newspaper, and later its TV channel HMTV. Despite his visual impairment and no hands-on experience in any print and visual media organization, he managed to catch the pulse of Hans readers through his columns and HMTV viewers through his daily analysis of local, national and international events.

For more than two years, he had been going strong, opening new editions in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and expanding the newspaper footprint in the Telugu states. His prudent editorial management has helped the paper to break even, first time since its inception, recently.

Then what had gone wrong and how did the professor fall from grace? Some time back, indications had emerged that all was not well when he was asked to focus on the newspaper instead of both the daily and TV channel.

Speculation was also rife that the management was looking for a replacement but the professor stayed put. Though his position became shaky, he ploughed on until Kingshuk Nag, former resident editor of the Hyderabad edition of the Times of India, was brought in as editorial advisor to the management. In any newspaper, when another head is put over the editor, it is clear that only one will remain and the other will be axed sooner or later. That’s an unwritten law. Prof Nageshwar should have seen the writing on the wall and left. Though he had sensed an office coup was in the making, with the obvious backing of the management, he couldn’t have imagined the way he was insulted out.
A day before he put in his papers on October 12, Kingshuk Nag had reportedly told him on his face at board meeting that he was “unfit to be editor.” The chairman’s silence was a signal to the professor that he was no longer needed.

The vacuum was immediately filled with next senior in the editorial department, Ramu Sharma. Though it is believed that his appointment as editor is a stop-gap arrangement to run the show, nobody knows who is on the management’s radar to replace Sharma.

Incidentally, he is a political reporter without any knowledge of production and news desk management. But what goes in favour of him is “he is close to the chairman.”

More than that, what the management wants is a pliable man who doesn’t oppose the ruling KCR government that has been facing a lot of media flak over the way it has handled the rain havoc in twin cities. Despite talk of spending hundreds of crores on improving the civic infrastructure, roads in the so-called world class city are worse than those in a provincial town.

The professor was bold enough to publish reports and photos of the state of roads –though not as many as the Times of India – and earned the wrath of the ruling dispensation. While the KCR government can’t touch biggies like TOI which don’t accept government ads, they are bread and butter for small players like Hans. And, governments use ads to ‘handle’ small and medium papers.

The professor’s no-compromise stand on publishing news seems to have irked the government so much that it is said to have conveyed its annoyance, albeit in a subtle way, to the Hans management. Its implication was either Nageshwar had to go or the paper had to forgo government ads. They are substantial, said to be more than Rs 5 crores a year. Fearing loss of revenue, the management had to devise ways to check him out.

Amidst the drama, the former MLC and the OU professor is said to have been offered vice chancellor post if he joins TRS. If what is being rumoured is true, it shows how the ruling party is trying to demolish opposition in the media and outside of it.

The footnote to the professor’s stint in active print journalism is, the treatment of scribes, particularly the top rung of the tribe, is universally the same: Tossing them out in a shameful manner. The climax in the Hans drama is Kingshuk Nag too quit.

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