With the launch of Mumbai Mirror, DNA and Hindustan Times, salaries in the somnolent Mumbai market in the past two months went through the stratosphere. In this unsigned article, a former IIM-Calcutta alumnus, who currently works for Business Standard in Mumbai, recounts the funnier – though real – side of the poaching game.
Pre-DNA: Jan 3, 2005: Terrible day. I was rudely woken up by a phone call from Boss complaining loudly that I had missed several stories. Boss warned me that I wouldn't get an increment this year. I decided to send my family to our native village because I can't afford to pay the rent.
Jan 4: I really get tired, travelling in that packed train to office in town and then coming back home all the way to Thane. I've broken the news about ABC Corporation planning to pump in $5 billion into India. Boss said they would take it on page 1 of the Companies section if they didn't have anything better.
Jan 5: Boss’s pet from the Banking Bureau got that junket to Singapore. My friend’s application for a job was turned down by the Resident Editor (RE) on the grounds that his 10 years’ experience is not good enough. Boss also made a sarcastic remark about my copy – he said I couldn’t write for nuts.
Jan 6: Received my salary today. Paid credit card dues with half of it, but I'll have to borrow some more money to pay my bills. My application for leave to take my family to our native village has been turned down. Boss tells me I must work harder and submit at least two exclusive stories daily.
Jan 7: I’m sick of remaining senior reporter for five years, so I went to a rival paper to try and get a job. No luck. I think I'll open a paan-beedi shop.
Post-DNA: July 3, 2005: Great day. I was woken up by a call from DNA offering me a job as Principal Correspondent with a 100 per cent rise in salary. I immediately told my Boss about the offer. He made a counter-offer on the spot, making me Special Correspondent with a 120 per cent rise in salary!
July 4: Our Deputy Resident Editor has joined DNA taking ten reporters with him. Boss asked me whether I would like to go on a junket to Singapore. I said I only go to Western countries. I've been asked to choose between junkets to New York, London and Paris. I said I would go for all of them.
July 5: Our News Editor has joined Mumbai Mirror, taking with him five sub-editors. I have got another offer from Hindustan Times. I told Boss about it, and I've been made Deputy Chief of Bureau.
July 6: Our Associate Editor has joined Hindustan Times, taking my boss with him. I told the RE that I had a job offer from Mumbai Mirror, although I haven't actually got it. He has made me Bureau Chief, replacing my Boss!! The company has offered me a car, and another 25 per cent hike. I finally submitted a story today, after three weeks. It was an old recycled story about how steel companies may lower prices. The RE said that it was one of the finest stories he had ever come across, and took it on Page 1.
July 7: I was woken up this morning by an SMS from the RE telling me how much he loved me. I told the RE that I was tired of writing news. He said that was no problem, and that with my excellent writing skills I could write features, edits, columns, etc. I suggested that I write an edit on the media scene with the heading “May a hundred DNAs bloom”, but the suggestion left him cold. I am deeply offended. I have discreetly let it be known that I am open to being poached as Executive Editor.