India's mainstream English media landscape is set for major changes, as leading publisher HT Media Ltd gets ready to unveil key changes across its portfolio in coming months.
While HT Media declined to confirm, the changes include a new expat editor for English daily Hindustan Times, the departure of a key expat editor responsible for major newsroom changes in the past three years, and a dramatic redesign of its financial newspaper, Mint.
The pending editor change at Hindustan Times means that there will now be new editors at the top English newspapers in India, following the appointments of Bodhisatva Ganguli and Mukund Padmanabhan as the Executive Editor and the Editor of The Economic Times and The Hindu, respectively.
After an exhaustive search that is believed to have lasted nearly a year, HT offered the top editor job at its flagship daily to Aparisim 'Bobby' Ghosh, who resigned from Quartz, the Atlantic Media web-site in New York where he initially joined as Managing Editor in June 2014 but was soon moved over to an Editor-at-Large role. Ghosh, who is an American citizen of Indian origin, is also a regular on CNN as a Global Affairs Analyst, and prior to that, he worked at Time magazine as World Editor.
Ghosh replaces Sanjoy Narayan who had joined Hindustan Times as the Editor-in-Chief in 2008. Ghosh will report to Shobhana Bhartiya, the chairman and editorial director at HT Media.
HT Media CEO Rajiv Verma declined to comment on the proposed changes and only said: "We are speaking with several journalists and will announce a name shortly."
This is not the first time that HT Media has looked outside India for candidates to run its news operations, with varying degrees of success. It has repeatedly brought in senior editors of Indian origin who were working outside India, including Chaitanya Kalbag, who had a brief stint as editor of HT. The founding editor of Mint, Raju Narisetti, was also recruited by HT from The Wall Street Journal. (Narisetti is currently Senior Vice President, Strategy, for News Corp, which also owns the parent of VCCircle.)
Ghosh's hiring comes on the heels of another pending, yet unannounced, key departure at Hindustan Times.
HT's chief editorial and content officer Nic Dawes is also learnt to be on his way out. Dawes, who had been hired by HT Media in 2013, was instrumental in devising a comprehensive digital strategy for the legacy media company, which included moving the newsrooms of HT and Mint into a single newsroom at HT Media's New Delhi headquarters, and on to a single publishing platform provided by Eidos Media. Dawes, who was previously editor-in-chief of South Africa's Mail and Guardian, is believed to be mulling a couple of jobs, including one in Washington DC.
In a text message sent to VCCircle, Dawes would only say: "I cannot comment on any personal or role changes at this time."
An email sent to Ghosh remained unanswered till the time of filing of this report. Responding to an email sent to Quartz editor-in-chief Kevin Delaney, a spokesperson for the web-site said: "We are unable to comment on the issue at this time." The Huffington Post reported that on Friday, Delaney announced in an internal Quartz memo that Ghosh was leaving to take up a job that "he can't yet disclose".
In a separate development, HT Media's financial daily Mint, which is India's only mainstream newspaper to be published in a unique Berliner format, is set to be re-launched as a broadsheet, say people familiar with a secret redesign exercise underway at HT Media.
Mint's original designer, the globally acclaimed Mario Garcia, has been repeatedly sighted at HT headquarters and is said to have been commissioned to redesign Mint as a broadsheet newspaper, with an unveiling set for later this Summer. Mint Editor Sukumar Ranganathan declined to comment on the development.
The redesign, which is only impacting the paper's print platform, comes as Mint, which was launched in 2007 and is widely regarded as a critical success in India's cluttered newspaper landscape, has continued to struggle with attracting a growing advertiser base. A broadsheet format, some HT Media execs believe, will help the advertising team of Hindustan Times sell more print ads across HT Media properties, said a person close to the development.
Mint, which was the sixth national English-language business newspaper in India to be launched in February 2007, has successfully moved to the No 2 spot, behind market leader The Economic Times, in reported circulation and readership. But insiders note that it remains a challenging financial proposition as HT Media has not been able to translate its critical acclaim and a reputation for quality and accuracy into profitable revenue.
Besides Mint and Hindustan Times, HT Media also publishes a Hindi daily Hindustan, under a separate company, and also runs radio stations under the brand name Fever 104 in several Indian cities.
HT Media Ltd announced late evening the appointment of Aparisim "Bobby" Ghosh as the editor-in-chief of HT Digital Streams Ltd, a new 100% subsidiary that has been floated for content creation and management and will be responsible for the overall digital strategy of the media company.
In an email message to employees, HT Media CEO Rajiv Verma also announced the departure of Sanjoy Narayan, the editor-in-chief of Hindustan Times.
As reported by VCCircle yesterday, Ghosh will report to Shobhana Bhartia, chairperson and editorial director, HT Media.
Earlier during the day, Ghosh, too, confirmed the development through a tweet.