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Here is why Siddharth Varadarajan was fired from The Hindu

The IE report suggested that the directors had admitted to "problems" under Varadarajan's leadership at the publication. In a statement issued by N Ram, he said that the step was taken to "restore employee morale, good industrial relations, and the trust of over 2 million readers of the newspaper".

The Wire’s founder, editor-in-chief Siddharth Varadarajan is facing extreme criticism over the allegedly fake story his portal ran against Bharatiya Janata Party and its IT Cell Chief Amit Malviya. In now-suspended reports, The Wire had claimed that Malviya was given “superpowers” at Meta under its XCheck program. The Wire added that using those powers, Malviya got over 700 Instagram posts removed, no questions asked.

When the story broke, it went viral, but as it involved the ruling party of India and a global tech giant, many tech experts stepped in to verify its authenticity. Finally, after days of throwing allegedly fabricated evidence, The Wire decided not to pursue the story further and retracted it after its “experts” who The Wire claimed had helped in validating a few documents announced they never validated anything for The Wire. The complete story can be read through our extensive coverage of the matter.

Since it was out in the open that “someone” at The Wire fabricated the story and Varadarajan let it run, the old investigations, especially tech related, are under scanner as well. So much so that, Sharechat, who was accused in the ‘Tek Fog’ application expose, released a statement demanding a retraction of the ‘Tek Fog’ story as it also involved the same author(s) who broke the Meta story and had serious flaws.

In one of our previous reports, we also examined Varadarajan’s role in gaslighting Hindus in Gujarat 2002 riots and how he whitewashed the Godhra train burning matter, questioned the authenticity of the eyewitnesses, and ran a parallel “investigation” for years.

The reason why Siddharth Varadarajan was ‘fired’ from The Hindu

Today, we will examine the reason behind his removal from The Hindu, where he had initially served as Strategic Affairs Editor starting in 2004 and climbed the stairs to become The Hindu’s Editor in 2011 only to “resign” (read ‘allegedly got fired’) from the publication in 2013.

On October 21, 2013, Varadarajan announced on Twitter that he had resigned from The Hindu. He wrote, “With The Hindu’s owners deciding to revert to being a family-run and edited newspaper, I am resigning from The Hindu with immediate effect.” Notably, he was the first non-family Editor of The Hindu since its inception.

Varadarajan announced his resignation from The Hindu in 2013. Source: Twitter

According to Indian Express, Varadarajan, along with The Hindu’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Arun Anant, were accused by the chairman of Kasturi & Sons Ltd (KSL) and publisher of The Hindu and Group publications N Ram of diverting the publication from its core values. While Varadarajan was demoted to contributing Editor and senior columnist, Anant was removed from the post. N Ravi became the editor-in-chief, and Malini Parthasarathy was appointed Editor.

The IE report suggested that the directors had admitted to “problems” under Varadarajan’s leadership at the publication. In a statement issued by N Ram, he said that the step was taken to “restore employee morale, good industrial relations, and the trust of over 2 million readers of the newspaper”.

Furthermore, N Ram mentioned in a statement that there were recurrent violations and defiance of the code of editorial values of the publication under Varadarajan’s leadership. The statement by N Ram in IE read, “There was editorialization in the guise of news and manipulation of news coverage. Varadarajan’s tenure also saw loaded items on politicians and pieces that should have appeared in the edit pages and not as news stories.”

On the other hand, though Varadarajan admitted to “instances of editorializing that slipped in” in an email response to the Indian Express, he claimed that such instances also happened during N Ram and N Ravi’s tenure as Editors at The Hindu. He claimed, “Under me, The Hindu became more feisty and readable than before, had better local coverage in the cities it publishes from than before, regularly broke major stories and investigations, fearlessly took on powerful corporate interests that the rest of the media chose to ignore, refused to mindlessly join media bandwagons whether on Modi or Pakistan or dumbing down of news, ran powerful, trend-setting national and international reportage and had emerged as a major trendsetter in the public sphere.”

Interestingly, he specifically mentioned PM Modi in his statement in 2013 when he was yet to step up as the Prime Minister of India. Notably, as per a Live Mint report, N Ravi had said, “News desk was given standing instructions not to take any stories on Narendra Modi on page one. The Hindu has always been anti-Hindutva, but it was always kept out of our news judgment”.

Though there was a case filed by Subramaniyan Swami against Varadarajan’s appointment as Editor at The Hindu as he is a US citizen, N Ram had denied the case had anything to do with the removal of Varadarajan from his post as Editor. Later, the Supreme Court dismissed Swami’s petition saying the only condition to be Editor of a publication in India is to be a resident of the country.

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B.Sc. Multimedia, a journalist by profession.

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