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“Living Media not a media company any more than Osama was a Buddhist monk”: Former India Today employee hits out at company’s “culture of fakeness”

Throwing light on how, over the years, Living media transformed from a reputed and moralistic media house to a fraudulent and feigned one, the former assistant editor of India Today said it is not surprising that "fixer" Rajdeep Sardesai was hired by Living Media.

A former India Today employee has taken to Twitter to expose the Living Media Group which owns media brands like India Today, Aaj Tak, Business Today etc. Rakesh Krishnan Thiyya, who worked in the media house for nearly 2 years as an assistant copy editor, in a thread of Tweets has torn into the media house’s subterfuge, claiming that since the year 1999, Living Media Group has degenerated into a racket, with its editors turning into fixers rather than writers.

Speaking of the corruption which seeped into the media house almost two decades ago, he writes how the big-wheel editors in the media house used their power and influence to dominate and blackmail politicians. “Stories by honest investigative journalists were killed to protect corrupt judges such as Sumit Mukherjee”, wrote Thiyya.

He wrote how Justice Mukherjee not only took bribes from property developers but would also ask for calls girls. The code word for girls was “leg piece”, claims the former assistant copy editor of India Today. He said that despite CBI giving the case (including tapes of the judge talking to dalals) as an exclusive to India Today, the story was killed.

He moves on to speak of how the electoral polls were also fixed to suit the media houses narrative. “Once I met the head of one of these polling firms. I said, you guys are complete fakes, why do you do this. He replied: “India Today pays us and we give them the results they ask for. Simple economics”, divulges Thiyya.

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He says that the Living Media Group’s malfeasance was not restricted to this. It also manipulated the circulation of its newspapers and magazines to hoodwink advertisers. Rakesh Krishnan Thiyya reminisced how proud he felt when he learnt that India Today at one point claimed they had a circulation of 250,000. Or maybe 400,000. He claims that he was so naive that he fell for India Today’s deceive “I was quite proud to be part of this magazine,” until of course, an insider informed him that the media house’s “paid subscription was not more than 25,000. In fact, their print run was 40,000 tops”, informs Rakesh.

He reveals that this guy who worked at Thompson Press which is owned by Living Media, had told him that the circulation was inflated to hoodwink advertisers.

The Twitter user claims that later he got another indication of the media houses’s “abysmally low circulation”.

“Every week the copy editor used to ask the desk team to create fake “Letters to the Editor”. Thiyya says that the reason being that for “a magazine with a claimed circulation of 2-4 lakh and a readership in the millions, they got at most 5-6 letters. Sometimes zero!”.

The former employee accused the media house of being a sham. He says that the above details point to the culture of fakeness that prevailed in Living Media. “The editors hired were those who could influence the government so the company could get FM and satellite TV licences”, alleges the former employee.

Calling India Today’s Best States of India surveys the biggest sham, Thiyta writes: “The chief minister who bought the biggest chunk of advertising supplements would be the best CM and his state would get ranked at the top”.

Throwing light on how, over the years, Living media transformed from a reputed and moralistic media house to a fraudulent and feigned one, the former assistant editor said it is not surprising that “fixer” Rajdeep Sardesai was hired by Living Media because he fits the description of what they need.

Accusing Sardesai of having “no morals or scruples”, he says that the way Sardesai danced on the screen when the Congress party won a state election shows he does not even pretend to have scruples. Rebuking Rajdeep Sardesai by calling him a “dalla” (pimp) or a “fixer”, the likes of whom are several in Delhi, the journalist furthers that Rajdeep Sardesai’s interview with Sonia Gandhi, in which the hardest question he asked was about her cooking skills, shows he is ideal for hatchet jobs like the Rhea interview.

“Outfits like Living Media are not media companies any more than Osama is a Buddhist monk. They are influencer peddlers and fixers. They don’t care about the truth or justice or creating a better world. They just want cash at all costs’, alleges the journalist, wondering how anted was Rhea Chakrobarty’s interview.

India Today and Rajdeep Sardesai criticised for whitewashing the allegations against accused Rhea Chakraborty

Notably, the interview of actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s alleged girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty with journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, the Twitter user mentions here, had not received a good response as netizens not only pointed several discrepancies in her statements but also pointed the hypocrisy of ‘journalist’ Rajdeep Sardesai for trying to whitewash the allegations against Rhea by carrying out an interview with an accused in the case.

Echoing a similar sentiment, former news anchor Barkha Dutt too took a sly at the veteran ‘journalist’ Rajdeep Sardesai. Calling him ‘wondrous’ schizophrenic, Barkha had torn into Rajdeep Sardesai for his hypocrisy in attacking other media groups for covering Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide case at the expense of other real issues, while he himself jumping on to the bandwagon to speak to Rhea Chakraborty, one of the main accused in the case.

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