Hours after suggesting cover story on Yogi Adityanath, Outlook sacks its editor

Photo: Twitter/Ruben Banerjee.

New Delhi: Hours after sending a message to senior editors asking for a story on “Abba Jaan & Adityanath” for the weekly’s next cover story, the Outlook Magazine Group has sacked its Editor-in-Chief Ruben Banerjee.

Shortly before Banerjee’s contract was terminated by Chief Executive Indranil Roy over disciplinary issues, the magazine’s Managing Editor Sunil Menon also put in his papers, The Print reported.

The report quoting Banerjee, said he had gone on his leave from 12 August, said he was sacked without any intimation. On Monday, the company named Chinki Sinha as Editor.

“I asked to extend my leave on 12 September as I was not feeling well…. I recovered and joined today. When did rejoining become a disciplinary issue?” the report quoted him as saying.

He added that there were differences between him and the Outlook management on the kind of content being published — a reference to stories critical of the ruling Narendra Modi government.

However, CEO Roy told ThePrint that this was not a sudden termination as Banerjee had been on leave and “was absent amidst Outlook’s ambitious digital launch”. Roy had said earlier that he had approved his leave.

On 12 September, in an email exchange between Roy and Banerjee, accessed by The Print, the CEO had written to the editor, saying he would discuss “all the issues” between them after Banerjee recovers and joins work.

“I completely disagree with your perception of what has transpired between us….Currently, I am stressed in respect of resources and therefore we have recruited an editor for Outlook who will be joining us soon. We can discuss all the issues when we meet in person next, after you recover,” Roy wrote.

Banerjee joined Wednesday and was sacked within hours, the report said.

Quoting Roy, the report said: “The issue here was the digital journey of the organisation. I wanted young, ‘rushy’ people for our digital platform. But he had different opinions. He thought I was undermining him, but this wasn’t the case. He took the drastic decision of going on leave.”

Banerjee had joined Outlook in 2018 as the Editor. He was promoted as the Editor-in-Chief in 2019, and was made the Editor-in-Chief of Outlook Money and Outlook Hindi in 2020. This year, he was promoted to the Group Editor-in-Chief.

“If I was getting such promotions, this means I must have been good at my job. My trouble started because of differences over our content. They were not happy with the kind of content we were doing,” The Print quoted Banerjee as having said, citing Outlook’s story on the Pegasus controversy and terror laws as examples.

The magazine’s ‘Missing’ cover from the May edition, suggesting that the Modi government was missing amid the devastating second Covid wave, had drawn strong reaction from the ruling dispensation, with many ministers and BJP leaders conveying their displeasure to the management as also the editor-in-chief, the report said quoting sources from Outlook.

However, the report said the CEO denied suggestions that there was any pressure on the organisation regarding the ‘Missing’ cover story.


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