During the lockdown, many newspapers in Mumbai have ceased production. The large issue is not on the supply end, it is not in the newsroom, but at the distribution channel that had been badly affected. Many prominent media houses have sanctioned staff layoffs or mandatory leave without pay. While The Indian Express and Business Standard newspapers have announced pay cuts, others have also taken the steps to curb costs.
15 employees of News Nation, a Hindi news national channel, were asked to leave with immediate effect. On 13 April, the digital news website The Quint had asked about 45 employees to go on indefinite leave without pay. Many news organizations faced a truly unprecedented situation and undoubtedly in these circumstances, revenue was under severe strain. Times Life, the Sunday supplement of the Times of India also asked its employees to leave. Small media houses just silently vanished from the race. There was a survival crisis for us too. Lockdown and covid challenges subjected us to unforeseen challenges and uncertain times.
Vaidehi Taman, Afternoon Voice Editor-in-Chief says, “There was a time when I thought of winding my newspaper, the rival tabloid Afternoon Dispatch and Courier also closed their newspaper forever. Everyday news of closures and layoffs in the media industry were very disturbing and distressing to me. I was almost on the verge of shutting down my newspaper. But my team was so co-operative and positive in their approach, their cheering support forced me to stand strong.”
Vaidehi further stated, “Dealing with monetary disasters was not easy and above all coming up from the scrape looked difficult, but somehow we walked our path making many adjustments and today celebrating 13th year of success. Meanwhile, many forces wished this publication to sink, I am sorry, we have disappointed them (she smiles).”
Akshay Redij, Digital Editor of Afternoon Voice said, “I was always keeping my fingers crossed. Because my heart was all for Afternoon Voice’s survival. The prolonged lockdown was not easy to deal with. I closely watched the struggle of Vaidehi and of course, we all were with her during this tough time. In the meantime, she came up with some parallel revenue model and we really slogged hours to earn that little income to sustain in lockdown. Temporarily she also joined a job in another reputed newspaper to support Afternoon Voice and with her dedication, somehow now everything came back on track.”
Rupal Mistry, the guest writer and well-wisher of Afternoon Voice said, “My job allowed me to work from home and that permitted me to be content support to Afternoon Voice as I have been with this newspaper since its inception. The emotional attachment and regard never allowed me to think of its closure as that was not an option. Somehow managed to share some financial responsibilities till its breaths back as it was just a matter of time. Today I am very happy to be part of its successful journey and very proud of the faith and responsibility with which the whole team worked during such a testing time.”
Afternoon Voice’s Page Designer Dipti Joshi said, “Every day is not the same, I used to tell Vaidehi this shall pass and we shall see the best of days. Lockdown setback cannot be expressed in words, undoubtedly it was a painful time. But we have the right spirit and now we will be rocking again.”
Circulation Executive Vijay Salgaonkar said, “Actually speaking from April 2020 to February 2021 we were at home. Most of the staff is from Vasai and Virar, commuting from those destinations was very difficult as local trains were closed down. By the time I resumed back the situations were slightly coming back to normal. When most of the staff was at home only three people including our editor were managing the show.”
There were many internal issues but when it comes to readers, they never disappointed us. There was constant content flow from their end, columns, letters to the editor and sometimes some feature stories. Our inbox was constantly full of content. Without their support and readership, this day celebration wouldn’t have been possible.
We, The Afternoon Voice team sincerely thank each and every one of our readers and all well-wishers. Their support and blessings encourage our steps towards another success story.