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Rajdeep Sardesai bids emotional farewell to IBN18

MUMBAI: While the rumours of his exiting the group were floating since the time Mukesh Ambani took over Network18, IBN18 editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai has finally decided to bite the bullet and has sent out his resignation.

Sardesai’s wife and CNN IBN deputy editor Sagarika Ghose had quit yesterday.

Rajdeep-Sardesai-400In an emotional mail to his colleagues, Sardesai wrote that after nine wonderful years the time had arrived for him to say goodbye. “I must confess it’s not easy to leave a baby that one has helped create/build/grow and to leave such great colleagues. But I guess certain things in life are written in the stars. Editorial independence and integrity have been articles of faith in 26 years in journalism and maybe I am too old now to change!” he wrote.

Further writing about his experience in his imitable style, he wrote, “I would though like to look at the brighter side, the many happy times we have all shared. I still remember when we decided to set up an English news channel: we had one chair and a table, and no one gave us a hope in hell. I recall an advertising executive watching our pitch and asking why we were even attempting a new news channel. But madness and a passion for journalism as defined by the spirit of “whatever it takes” can break many a wall: we eventually did it! CNN IBN was a remarkable success: in nine years, we achieved the seemingly impossible in the news business: ratings, revenue, but most crucially, RESPECT for our journalism. I am told that our awards tally is now over 200, more than all the other channels put together! This year’s election coverage was a good example of what we have been able to achieve: a friend in CNN said he would have been proud to put together such a formidable line up of programming.”

Writing about the flanking Hindi news channel IBN 7, Sardesai said that it had a more difficult period in a highly competitive market. However, he added that he can look back with pride on the achievements of the channel. “We had a fire in the belly as typified by the tagline ‘Khabar har keemat par’. I remember in a small town in UP when an elderly gent came to me and said, ‘Sir, maan gaye, aap hee ka channel hai jo na Mayawati ko na Mulayam ko chhodta hai!’ And thank you to the IBN 7 newsroom for helping me improve my Hindi.”

Ghose,_SagarikaFor the IBN Lokmat team, he was all praise. He wrote, “You guys in many ways are the real rockstars. You overcame every challenge to build a channel of substance. You created programming that won awards at the national level and stories that made the people of Maharashtra sit up. “Chala Jag Jinkuiya” – truly you showed what the true spirit of journalism can do. My dream was that one day we would have similar quality channels in every Indian language: that dream must wait another day!”

Writing about the freedom of press, he maintained that none of all this would have been possible without the freedom one enjoyed at Network18. “For that, I am eternally grateful to the leadership. Above all, none of this would have been possible without the professionalism that each and every one of you has shown. Television news is the ultimate TEAM game: I know the hard work that every one of you put to build this network: from OB drivers and engineers from video editors to video journalists to the newsroom – each of you deserve the highest acclaim for being there 24×7, through winter mornings and summer evenings.”

Giving out a message, he wrote further, “Forget the cynics. Journalism, my friends, is a great profession. Good journalism makes a genuine difference to the world by offering a mirror to the society. Our stories have exposed corrupt netas and forced ministers to resign; we did stories that got jobs for the disabled, land to the landless, justice to acid attack victims. Hell, we even pioneered the idea of citizen journalism and of India Positive and Real Heroes to showcase an India that otherwise is lost in the noise of breaking news. Yes, putting news above noise, sense above sensation and credibility above chaos must remain a credo forever: else journalism will lose its moral compass. I hope the new management will always put journalism first and I wish them well.” 

While Ghose is expected to join her former colleague Karan Thapar in Headlines Today, Sardesai, is expected to take a break and turn into an author.

In the last couple of months, Network18 group has lost founder and MD Raghav Bahl, group CEO B Sai Kumar, COO Ajay Chacko, CFO RDS Bawa and now the journalist couple.

With the top management as well as top editors out, the news channels are set to undergo a complete change.

Also read:

Is Barkha Dutt replacing Rajdeep Sardesai?
Sagarika Ghose bids goodbye to CNN IBN
Watch out for Mukesh Ambani’s media play
Drama unfolds as Reliance Industries takes charge of Network18 and TV18
Reliance Industries to acquire Network18
Top level exits continue to rock Network18; CFO RDS Bawa quits
Network18 group COO Ajay Chacko also quits
B Saikumar steps down as Network18 group CEO