Shekhar Gupta joins ITG, Raj Kamal Jha takes on new role!
A day after a farewell mail was sent out to his staff at the Indian Express, Shekhar Gupta is set to join as the as the Vice Chairman of The India Today Group and Editor-in-Chief of all its news properties which include all its news and business publications, news TV brands and all related news and business digital brands. Gupta quits Indian Express almost a year short of two decades with the Group. While rumours about his exit have been afloat in the industry for a while, this announcement confirms his re-joining with the India Today Group.
Aroon Purie, ITG Chairman announcing the major appointment, said, “This is a homecoming for Shekhar. He joined India Today in 1983 and was here for 12 eventful years during which he was an outstanding journalist. Shekhar is by far the best reporters’ editor in Indian journalism today. Because of his fierce independence and integrity, he attracts and inspires the finest talent, and I look forward to him bringing an entire ecosystem of excellence on editorial as well as corporate platforms. At a personal level, our friendship has grown as we have bounced ideas off each other about the rapid changes in our business. So Shekhar’s return is a moment of deep satisfaction and vindication of my belief, our shared belief, in the power of good journalism to help make sense of the noise rather than to add to it. Shekhar has also promised to liberate me from day-to-day operations so that I can work to guide the Group into a future of great promise, growth and excitement”.
Speaking on his ‘home-coming’ of sorts Gupta said, “It’s a privilege to have the opportunity, to return to the India Today Group to work with Aroon and his fine teams and nurture the most trusted news brands. ITG, with its commitment to excellence and credibility, is best placed to meet the biggest challenge in our business today: to earn the trust and respect of our readers and viewers.”
Reporting to Purie, Gupta will be in charge for the editorial quality of all news and business brands. He is also said to work closely with Ashish Bagga, the Group CEO to enable him to effectively grow readership and viewership profitably. Source also say that in association with Purie, Gupta will also launch a series of unique new editorial products that will showcase, 24X7, the finest in investigative reporting and interpretative commentary.
On the other side, filling in the empty seat left behind by Gupta, Raj Kamal Jha has been appointed as the new Chief Editor of Indian Express as Unni Rajen Shanker takes on Jha’s role as the Editor. Earlier to this, while Jha was the Editor of the Indian Express, Shanker was the Managing Editor.
In the new role, Jha will report directly to Viveck Goenka, Chairman, Indian Express. Making this announcement via an internal mail to his employees, Goenka said:
“With much regret, I accept Shekhar Gupta’s resignation as editor-in-chief of The Indian Express. I truly appreciate his letter to all of us and I wish him the very best."
Shekhar leaves on June 15, just a year short of his 20 years here -- another moment of transition in the long history of this great institution.
When I chose him for the position of editor in 1995, I was taking no leap in the dark. I was absolutely convinced that Shekhar, then 38, was the best person to guide this newspaper into the future. And I feel more than vindicated today.
So many news breaks (I have happily lost count) delivered by the finest reporters, editors, sub editors, designers and photographers, a team I am very proud of, team which is the envy of every newspaper publisher: three International Press Institute Awards for Excellence in Journalism; the most questioning opinion section in the business and the most generous, too, given how it welcomes dissenting voices; a renewal of talent each year by the youngest and the brightest from our campuses – Shekhar leaves the newspaper stronger than ever.
Key to each one of these achievements has been the consistently stellar work of the Express team under the leadership of editor Raj Kamal Jha. Raj's leadership is grounded in his commitment to professional excellence and uncompromising integrity. He brings to the newsroom creativity, clarity and depth, three qualities increasingly rare in our business. This not only inspires his colleagues, it powers them to realise their best potential.
Raj could not have a stronger partner in the newsroom than managing editor Unni Rajen Shanker.
Unni has been a reporter, an editor, a resident editor (Mumbai) and editor of the Express News Service. He brings to his leadership a deep understanding of all the different roles in the changing newsroom and an unrivalled sense of fairness and empathy. It's this that enables him attract the finest talent and then nurture them. Unni is one of the pillars of the Express.
Since they joined in 1996, both have steered change and are, therefore, ideally placed to help guide the paper into the future. That is why, to facilitate a seamless transition, I am proud to repose my faith in them and redesignate them for their new roles.
Raj will be chief editor and will report to me. Unni will be editor.
I look forward to working closely with them. They will find me every bit as supportive as all their predecessors, including Shekhar did, as we plan and implement exciting new upgrades to all our news brands.
There is work to do.
We have witnessed a remarkable election and an even more remarkable victory that bring with it challenges for all of us in the news business whose mission is to question, to report, to interpret and to analyse.
I firmly believe and, more so, given the changes in the media landscape, that these are challenges best suited for The Indian Express given how strongly independence and courage are wired in our genes. I believe that the present news media environment in India offers us an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to what we do best: faithful and courageous journalism. With all the shrill voices on TV, the paid news in print and the corporate funded or politician backed news organizations, The Indian Express must be the voice India can turn to and trust. Speaking truth to power is hard wired in the genes of our editorial teams. The "Express" commitment to this legacy, mine and that of the future generation, will certainly endure. The newsroom is and will be the most sacred space in our institution.
I am committed to raising the bar and instilling a fresh new energy in our editorial teams. In addition to revamped content, I look forward to closely integrating all our news operating systems because our growth is now across platforms. This was evident last month, during Verdict 2014.
We had print editions that were reported and produced to the finest standards and a digital edition that broke all our records with over 52 million page views, more than 100,000 active users for eight hours, a live video news stream from the Express newsroom, all of this making us among the five most visited news sites in the country.
Looking ahead, that’s the road we take. Not only reporting the news first but also being the first to understand it and question its assumptions. This means better stories, better analyses, better pictures, better everything and ensuring that The Indian Express journalism of courage reaches the reader wherever she is, whenever she wants it, whichever device she wants to receive it on.
Shekhar, whether he is at the Express or not, will always be a part of this journey. For, he leaves us with a sense of determination and purpose. And a wonderful tool-kit of ideas and values that we will use and keep adding to.
Please join me in wishing him, once again, the best of luck as he scales what I am sure will be a new professional summit.
And, Raj and Unni, let us get to work. I wish you and your teams my very best.
Jha had joined the daily in 1996 as Deputy Editor (Operations) and then was Executive Editor. He has been an Assistant Editor (News) at The Statesman in Kolkata and Senior Associate Editor at India Today magazine, New Delhi. He also authored three novels – ‘The Blue Bedspread’ (1999-2000), which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (Eurasia region), ‘If You Are Afraid of Heights’, and ‘Fireproof’, which was published in 2006.