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Uncertainty the story in Tehelka newsroom,Shoma says damaging time for all

Shoma Chaudhury resigns,says ‘damaging’ time for all associated with Tehelka.

Written by Ruhi Tewari | New Delhi |
November 30, 2013 12:53:44 am

Shoma Chaudhury resigned as the managing editor of Tehelka on Thursday,over a week after a junior colleague accused the magazine’s founder-editor Tarun Tejpal of sexual assault. With Tejpal having already “recused” himself for six months,there is growing uncertainty about the magazine’s future.

Besides Chaudhury,five other journalists,including the victim,have resigned from Tehelka in the last week or so. Tejpal and Chaudhury were the two key people most closely identified with the brand. According to the magazine’s website,it currently has a little over 30 members in its editorial staff,including photographers,video correspondents and designers.

Chaudhury,who has been associated with Tehelka since its inception in 2000,sent her resignation early on Thursday morning,addressed to “Dear all” and marked to Chief Operating Officer (COO) Neena Tejpal,all editors and the bureau among others.

“I have worked hard for Tehelka for many years and what we have stood for is very dear to me and I hold it in high esteem. I do not want questions raised about my integrity to tarnish the image of Tehelka,which it has done in the past week. I deeply regret any inadequacies or lack of clarity I may have displayed in my leadership,” said Chaudhury in her letter,adding that this was a “damaging” time for everyone associated with Tehelka. She said she wasn’t sure if her presence was “harming or helping Tehelka”.

While COO Neena Tejpal,who is Tarun Tejpal’s sister,has taken charge of the organisation,deputy editor Ramesh Sharma has been made acting executive editor. At a brief meeting with the staff in the evening,Neena Tejpal said the organisation would need two more days to decide the future roadmap and Sharma would be in charge of editorial for now. She said all employees would be dealt with “fairly”.

When contacted by The Indian Express,Neena Tejpal confirmed Sharma’s current role. Asked how long Tehelka would take to sort things out,she said,“I wish I knew”.

“Shoma Chaudhury had to take this decision,she had no other choice. For now,there is no clear successor. There is a leadership vacuum now and they will need to bring in someone from outside to take over,” said Shougat Dasgupta,the magazine’s literary editor who resigned last week and is serving his notice period.

Both Neena Tejpal and Chaudhury are shareholders in ThinkWorks that organises the THiNK Fest every year in Goa,where the alleged incident of sexual assault took place earlier this month.

Meanwhile,the latest issue of the magazine goes to press on Thursday night with a cover story on the Aarushi Talwar murder verdict.

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