Times of India Journalists Are Being Forced To Become ‘Social’; Salaries Now Linked With Social Media Shares!
World’s largest selling English language newspaper: Times of India, has unleashed a new trend in the news and media industry by forcing their journalists to become social. The management has linked the target variable pay (TVP) of their journalists and content developer’s salaries with the amount of social share they are performing.
Medianama has access to emails, which clearly states that every journalist working with Times of India must:
- Share atleast three WhatsApp messages with their stories
- Share atleast three ‘online-first’ stories within their social circle
- Share atleast three Tweets with their stories in them
Failure to do so shall result in reduced incentives, hence reduced salaries.
Bodhisatva Ganguli, who is the Executive Editor of The Economic Times, had sent one such email earlier in the month to all employees of the media conglomerate. Times of India has officially refused to either confirm or deny any such diktat.
Writing Is Not Enough; Share it As Well
With this new protocol of Times of India, news and publishing industry may witness a new trend of ‘forcing’ the journalist/writer to become socially active, and share their creations with their online connections.
For enforcing the social sharing aspect, Times of India has actually created slabs based on which their journalist’s salaries would depend.
For example, sharing ‘online-first’ articles will carry a ‘weightage’ of 25%, while Tweeting atleast three stories every day carry another 25% weight. Even comments posted by article writers have been included in this first of its kind diktat for journalists, as it carries 5% ‘weight’. Besides, the journalist has to provide atleast one comment per story.
In one of the emails, which Medianama has a copy, it is said, “Reporters with a score less than 25% during the year will get no TVP or increment or promotion. Please note contributions to Speed News will be discontinued.”
Earlier, Times of India had attempted to change the Twitter handles of all employees, and suffix them with TOI for a large scale promotional integration; which didn’t work out. The recent linking of incentives and salaries with the social share is another attempt to turn their employees into digital marketers.
Intrusion of Privacy?
While some organizations and publication houses forbid their employees from even using social media sites, Times of India is actually forcing their journalists and writers into using social media channels, and promote their articles.
In another email, it is being mentioned that Times of India’s focus is now going increasingly towards the Digital medium from print medium.
Social Media accounts of any employee, whether news and media or any other industry, is a private property of that employee.
Issuing such diktats for the employees is same as asking them to put a banner of the organization on the top of their homes and shouting out to everyone about the latest updates.
It seems Times of India is saving the expenses of hiring a social media agency by forcing their employees to promote their articles and posts. Sharing should always be a voluntary exercise, depending on the choices made by the specific employee.
As seen with the Deepika Padukone’s cleavage controversy, Times of India has very little regard for fair and justified reporting. And now, the same attitude is being pushed for their own employees, who are the pillars of their organization.
The way they are pushing for more views, more clicks and more attention, they are setting a very wrong example.
Employees of Times of India should revolt against such diktat, and protect their privacy and their freedom of choice, which is a right of every Indian.
Social media should not be forced, that is simply not “social” behaviour by an employer. TOI’s attitude should be condemned, but which journalist has the guts to stand up for fear of losing his job (the ultimate tragedy of all, as it appears)? Instead, he will simply embark on a new rat race rife with the inevitable quota of office politicking, unnecessary one-upmanship and back-stabbing — to add to the rubbish he has to endure in the course of performing his daily duties.
Stories and articles are shared online on the basis of peer and reader reviews, and not by the writers/reporters themselves. Asking a reporter to crow about his own story online is not only crassly manipulative, but also reeks of bad ethics. What would the Jain seers think of such blatant self-promotion and ego trips using journalism as a handy tool?
Let the readers decide whether a story is worth sharing or even reading.
Nobody owns people just because they pay them a salary. Even daily wage labourers have the character to protest against bullying by their employers. Irritate even a dog repeatedly and it will at least bark at you, or if it comes to that, bite you. When will the middle class learn?
At the end of the day, it is only a job, and companies and the coteries running them must realise that THE RIGHTS OF THE PERSON DOING THE WORK FOR WHICH HE/SHE IS PAID, IS AS IMPORTANT AS THE WORK ITSELF, variable pay or no variable pay.
Journalists REVOLTING against unfair practices by their employer??!! Mohul, are we on the same planet?!!
What’s wrong if they want to promote TO article more. They implemented sharing policy from last some months and they are getting more and more response from social media.
TOI should first focus on making their website responsive before trying to go digital.