The row was kicked off by an opinion piece by the Editor-in-Chief of southLive.in, that most of the journalists working with him did not agree to. Then, a few senior journalists made it clear publicly that Editor-in-Chief Sebastian Paul's views did not reflect the overall opinion of the editorial team.
But trouble within the Malayalam/English news website did not stop there. The management has told journalists and others in the organization that they can either align with him, or simply, walk out of their jobs.
This is what journalists with Southlive.in were told on Thursday at a meeting with the website's management.
What's the issue about?
In an article published in Southlive on Sunday, Sebastian Paul, former MP, media critic and lawyer, wrote in support of actor Dileep, who is currently under judicial custody, after being accused in the abduction and alleged sexual assault of a woman actor.
Editor-in-Chief and Chairman of the website and he said in his article, that there was nothing wrong in creating a "positive and a sympathy wave" for Dileep.
The article was slammed by readers, critics, activists and also by journalists with other publications. But what came as a surprise, was journalists with Southlive taking to social media to publicly disagree with their Editor-in-Chief.
Journalists including NK Bhoopesh, Executive Editor at SouthLive English, Chief Entertainment Editor Maneesh Narayanan, senior reporter Sikesh Gopinath, were among the voices who slammed Sebastian Paul.
Calling the article a propaganda campaign in support of Dileep, they maintained that Sebastian Paul's views did not reflect the editorial stand of the website.
However, the issue escalated on Thursday, when the management supported Sebastian Paul.Representatives of the management including Managing Director Saj Kurien,CEO Joshy Syriah reportedly told the employees that Southlive's editorial stand was synonymous with that of Sebastian Paul's. Although the employees marked their stiff opposition against Sebastian Paul's article, the management did not budge.
Later taking to Facebook, NK Bhoopesh narrated the proceedings at the meeting. Recounting the discussions, he wrote:
"So the threat was clear. Even if Sebastian Paul justifies any criminal activity or mocks people supporting the victim, we must all support him, or leave. If the management is ready to go against all of the employees' resistance against Sebastian Paul, then they might be getting some benefit out of it.â€ť
Many journalists from the organization have reiterated that they will not dilute their stand, regardless of the consequences.