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LATEST UPDATE: MEDIAAH IS DEAD

Pradyuman Maheshwari's Mediaah is back

After a year in hibernation, Pradyuman Maheshwari's media masala is back. Mediaah.com relaunches on January 17, the day NDTV Profit is going on air. Dancewithshadows snoops  into the shadows:

 

BY OUR MEDIA EDITOR

 When I joined Mid-Day in 1999, Pradyuman Maheshwari was its Deputy Editor. The Editor was Ayaz Memon, now with Times of India.

At that time, Mid-Day had a page called Suburbia, which reported on happenings in the Mumbai suburbs. This page became highly popular and started drawing a lot of ads. Like any sensible media organisation, Mid-Day decided to spin off Suburbia into a separate section to reap the increasing ad revenue.

 I do not know whether Pradyuman Maheshwari mooted the proposal or the management. Anyway, Mr Maheshwari was entrusted with the task of conceiving and producing Suburbia. He took on the task, brimming with enthusiasm.

 That was one good thing I always noticed about Maheshwari - he was always gung-ho, always optimistic about new things. Never a moment of pessimism.

 The cream of Mid-Day's reporting section was carved out, besides some from the features department, to create the Suburbia editorial team. The Suburbia team was put up at Marol, far from the main Mid-Day office at Lower Parel. The product was started in September 1997. But despite a reporting team about 7-strong, with an exclusive photographer, Suburbia never got any good stories. Many of the reporters wanted to go back to their original duties. Worse, Suburbia never got any ads. I still remember the quarter page "Paisa vasool" in-house ad that regularly appeared in Suburbia's backpage. Within a year of birth, it had collapsed.

 By the end of 1998, the 4-page colour section Suburbia had run to the ground. The Suburbia team was accommodated in different sections of Mid-Day. Like others, Pradyuman Maheshwari too, was back to square one. For a while, he was put in charge of Mid-Day's general newsdesk. He also looked after the features section. He still wrote the media analyses which was his forte.

Those were the days when a lot of people thought email IDs and websites were the same. The word dotcom had not yet been coined. Pradyuman Maheshwari, with all enthusiasm, welcomed the dotcom wave with open arms. Now was the time to get on the information super highway!

 I do not know whether Pradyuman Maheshwari mooted the proposal or the management. Anyway, like the ill-fated Suburbia, Mr Maheshwari was entrusted with the task of building Mid-Day.com. By end-1998, Mid-day.com was live. For inexplicable reasons, Mr Maheshwari chose to re-brand mid-day.com as chalomumbai.com. Even if you typed mid-day.com, you would be redirected to chalomumbai.com. The decision spooked all sane-thinking people. The reason to avoid the well-known Mid-Day brand from the new venture remained a mystery.

 Despite the ads, few people ever heard of Chalomumbai.com. Some of the innovations by Chalomumbai included offers of email addresses like XYZ@vadapav.com, abc@virarlocal.com, etc. People who were already tired with long suburban travel stayed off such email IDs. Many people who were looking for Mid-Day's website never reached chalomumbai.com and thought Mid-day did not have a website yet. That was not abnormal. Many newspapers those days did not have websites.  Like Suburbia, Chalomumbai never took off. After Maheshwari's exit, Chalomumbai.com was re-branded as Mid-day.com. Better sense had prevailed somewhere.

 Pradyuman Maheshwari left Mid-Day in 2000. For a while, he worked with a company called tringtring.com, an ISP. I guess he was on the content side there. By now, the dotcom bubble had grown so gigantic, that even sensible people thought stock options were the way to go. Like Suburbia, Tring Tring too sank without a trace. This writer faced a lot of flak for not boarding the dotcom bus. When the bus crashed in late 2001, this writer was still riding his cycle.

 Pradyuman Maheshwari had by now left and joined a PR company. This too did not last for long. Like many other veterans blinded by the dotcom flash, Maheshwari hopped from job to job till....

 ...till he started Mediaah! We are not going through Pradyuman Maheshwari's emotional compulsions on why he started Mediaah.com, a blog hosted on blogspot.com. Maheswari claims that the negative response he got to his suggestion to a friend to write on a report in Times of India about STAR News' uplinking application sow the seeds of Mediaah. For details, check out the archives of Mediaah.com.

 Mediaah touted itself as the media's media. Unlike established media sites like exchange4media.com and agencyfaqs.com, Mediaah prided in its masala approach to media events. Pradyuman Maheshwari started putting out articles -- some facts and the rest mostly gossip and hearsay masquerading as facts.

NEXT PAGE: MEDIAAH'S FUNCTIONING

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