Just when journalists in Mumbai – and also those in Delhi and Kolkata – were seemingly freaking out at the prospects of pocketing fancy salaries with DNA and Hindustan Times, comes the dampener. The Times of India, HT, and The Telegraph, generally perceived as the prime targets of poaching by DNA ahead of its launch, have closed ranks by signing non-poaching deals amongst themselves.
According to reliable information, in a communication sent out by Bennett, Coleman & Co.’s HRD Director last week, senior employees were informed of the agreement. The communication said: ”We have just signed non-poaching agreements with Hindustan Times and The Telegraph. This means we will not hire any employees from either nationally effective immediately.”
The search for editorial resources across levels had been extended in recent weeks to Delhi and Kolkata. According to informed sources, in order to retain its better Delhi editorial staffers, the Times management has very recently given hefty mid-year pay hikes to about two dozen TOI staffers. The hikes have been in the range of 40-50 per cent, and in some cases even more. Even some editorial members of The Economic Times have gained from these mid-year hikes, it is learnt.
While for Times the cost of retaining manpower was threatening to become very steep, the other danger was that any major exodus would badly hit editorial quality. And these twin dangers had also begun to stare at the face of The Telegraph, a great repository of journalistic talent at all levels. Informed media industry sources say that the search for edit resources had already been extended to the eastern metropolis, and ABP House in particular.
With Times, HT and Telegraph deciding not to poach from each other, the head-hunting game has become that much easier for DNA, provided it is prepared to dole out the right temptations. For the Mumbai market, journos are still talking big money.