Television

Rajdeep Sardesai’s last email to IBN18

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MUMBAI: Rumours were finally put to rest as editor-in-chief of Network18 Rajdeep Sardesai quit the IBN18 Network. He sent out a detailed emotional email beginning with how difficult it was for him to leave the news network likening it to a baby.

After quitting NDTV in 2005, Sardesai went on to join IBN18 as its editor-in-chief for nine long years. He was the face of the channel, hosting the prime time show ‘India at 9’.

The Padma Shri awardee in his email sent out to employees some time back, spelt out how he began with the English channel with just a chair and a table. He also thanked IBN-18’s Hindi channel IBN7 for helping improve his Hindi oratory skills.

While he tweeted; “Proud of what we have achieved at IBN18. Built channels from scratch that put journalism first. Will treasure the journey.”

Below lies the full transcript of the email that Sardesai sent to his colleagues and employees at IBN18.

“My dear friends,

This is one of  the toughest letters to write. After nine wonderful years at IBN 18, its time to say goodbye. I must confess its not easy to leave a baby that one has helped create/build/grow and to leave such great colleagues. But I guess certain things in life are written in the stars. Editorial  ndependence and integrity have been articles of faith in 26 years in journalism and maybe I am too old now to change!

I would though like to look at the brighter side, the many happy times we have all shared. I still remember when we decided to set up an English news channel: we had one chair and a table, and no one gave us a hope in hell. I recall an advertising executive watching our pitch and asking why we were even attempting a new news channel. But madness and a passion for journalism as defined by the spirit of  "whatever it takes" can break many a wall: we eventually did it! CNN IBN was a remarkable success: in nine years, we achieved the seemingly impossible in the news business: ratings, evenue, but most crucially, RESPECT for our  journalism. I am told that our awards tally is now over 200, more than all the other channels put together! This year's election coverage was a good example of what we have been able to achieve: a friend in CNN said he would have been proud to put together such a formidable line up of  programming.

IBN 7 had a more difficult period in a highly competitive market, but again I can look back with pride on the achievements of  the channel. We had a fire in the belly as typified by the tagline "khabar har keemat par'. I remember in a small town in UP when an elderly gent came to me and said, "sir  aan gaye, aap hee ka channel hai jo na mayawati ko na mulayam ko chhodta hai!" And thank you to the IBN 7 newsroom for helping me improve my Hindi to the point where I could maybe anchor in Hindi one day!

and then to my friends in IBN Lokmat: you guys in many ways are the real rockstars. You overcame every challenge to build a channel of substance. You created programming that won awards at the national level and stories that made the people of Maharashtra sit up. "Chala Jag Jinkuiya": truly you showed what the true spirit of journalism can do. My dream was that one day we would have similar quality channels in every Indian language: that dream must wait another day!

None of  all this would have been possible without the freedom one enjoyed at Network 18. For that I am eternally grateful to the leadership. Above all, none of  this would have been possible without the professionalism that each and every one of  you has shown. Television news is the ultimate TEAM game: I know the hard work that every one of  you put to build this network: from OB drivers and engineers from video editors to video  journalists to the newsroom, each of  you deserve the highest acclaim for being there 24 x 7, through winter mornings and summer evenings.

Forget the cynics, journalism my friends is a great profession. Good journalism makes a genuine difference to the world by offering a mirror to society. Our stories have exposed corrupt netas and forced ministers to resign; we did stories that got jobs for the disabled, land to the landless, justice to acid attack victims. Hell, we even pioneered the idea of citizen journalism and of  India Positive and Real Heroes to showcase an India that otherwise is lost in the noise of  breaking news. Yes, putting news above noise, sense above sensation and crediiblity above chaos must remain a credo forever: else journalism will lose its moral compass. I hope the new management will always put journalism first and I wish them well.

I don't want this note to be too long, (editors takes can get awfully long-winded) so I shall end here. I shall leave you with a Hindi film song which I believe should be a life philosophy: Aadmi musafir hai, aata hai aur jaata hai, aate jaate raste pe apne yaadein chhod jaata hai.. I hope, in my own small way, I have touched you on life's journey; you guys certainly have made be a better person. I will treasure the memories of  what must be nine of  the best years of my professional life. As I move on, I have no doubt our paths will cross: the friendships and warmth will endure forever. Thank you for the memories.

Warmest,

Rajdeep

P.S. am sorry if I would occasionally call at 3 am in the morning. Blame it on being a news junkie. And remember, every time there is a spelling mistake on the ticker, my ghost will haunt you!!

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