Mediaah!: Oh MiD-Day, my MiD-Day!

08 Dec,2011

By Pradyuman Maheshwari


Its paid content strategy is rubbish, but it’s a great newspaper. It’s a Mumbai institution, just as The Times of India is (see disclosure below). Sadly, it flopped miserably in Delhi and Bengaluru (and Pune) in the past and I wasn’t surprised to learn that the paper was shutting shop in the two metros. Pune stays, but it’s serviced totally by Mumbai, save the local reporting talent.


When Jagran bought Midday Multimedia last year, it was evident that the group was interested in the flagship Mumbai edition, Inquilab and Gujarati Mid-Day. In fact, Inquilab fitted the gameplan perfectly to dominate UP.


While we mediapersons sermonise endlessly about how corporates should deal with retrenchment, we are awful in handling such situations in our own backyard. The mail from the CEO was very casual and while he may have thought it was cool, there are better ways to do effect a closure.


Do it face-to-face. Personally visit one of the centres and request your editor who was in Bengaluru to interview the Apple co-founder to stay back and break the bad news.


Those in power must never forget that the same fate could strike them.


Now what? The team in Delhi is up in arms. Over social networks they say that they were being asked to voluntarily resign and have heard that bouncers will stop them from entering the office today. I don’t know what’s the state in Bengaluru, but some protestors asked MxMIndia to report on the matter. We haven’t done a story on the issue, because it was too late to get a comment from the Mid-Day bosses.


From what I know of the Jagran management, the Guptas are cool and considerate. They are open to reason, and I’m sure they’ll correct the wrongs. They are interested in the big picture, and will not want to dirty their image with such petty matters. Mid-Day is just one of the publications in their acquisition plans… there are many more in the pipeline.


Yes, the Delhi and Bengaluru editions didn’t work. With abysmal readership and a nil score on the IRS Q2/2011 numbers for urban centres like Gurgaon and Noida, even the journos knew that the editions weren’t going anywhere.


But you’ve got to give the jhatkas with compassion. Jaago, Jagran, jaago.


* Disclosure: I have spent some of the best years of my professional life working with Mid-Day from 1993 to 2000.


Hey Minister! Leave the cyberspace alone!

My heart goes out to our dear central mantrijis. They’ve are subjected to the whims and fancies of all and sundry. The Prime Ministerji, Madamji, Babaji, Betiji, Saaleji, other Mantrijis and Mukhyamantrijis, various MPjis, some friendly Opposition leaderjis too. And the Babus, the secretaries, chaprasis and even the drivers. Not to forget the barber and the occasional masseur.


But in the mother of all wtf-ness, I was shocked to see the otherwise reasonable Kapil Sibal making a hash of himself (literally, with an idiot prefixed on Twitter) by asking social networks etc to regulate content. Sibal, poor man, is under hajaar fire. 2G, 3G and of course the G family.


There has been furore on the twitterosphere and for that matter all media. Monsieur Sibal should know that the internetwallahs aren’t divided and won’t sit quiet after a while like broadcasters and newspaperwallahs. Consequence: the issue has got internationalised and India is being compared to China. Which is silly. We aren’t.


Time for credible awards

I was at the Time-Out food awards on Tuesday evening, and the creme de la creme of restaurantwallahs were in attendance. Funnily, every other winner had just one thing to say: that being from Time-Out, the awards were credible.


I think the credit for this goes to editorial head Naresh Fernandez and owner-bosswoman Smriti Ruia Kanodia. I’ve known Naresh for a bit, and must say he can be brutally credible. Which is perhaps why I trust Time-Out thoroughly. If Time-Out says the food at Restaurant X is good, you can be sure it’ll be good. Can’t say that about some other reviewers who love the free stuff, or at least whose publications do not have a policy of serving honest content. Ms Kanodia deserves credit for having survived Naresh and been successful despite his (and the Time-Out parents’ ) insistence that they will not bow to  advertiser diktats. Okay, okay credit also to the business and sales folk for being able to sell despite all these odds.


Back to the point of awards not being credible. It’s unfortunate that the general perception is that awards instituted by media companies aren’t aboveboard. More on that some other day.


Who’s the most IMPACT-ful of them all?

It’s the big night for media professionals. It’s also for the first time I will not be attending an Impact Person of the Year. Guess the promoters there are still peeved that I quit to set up MxMIndia. As a career journalist, I couldn’t have turned to farming after moving on. Yes, I could’ve gone back to mainstream media or set up a Firstpost-like site that I was intending to, but, heck, I think it’s possible to have a good, clean media and marketing portal. With content that’s not got strings attached. Like afaqs and a few others.The market is waiting to grow.


For the record, none of the ex-e4mers who’ve joined MxM were pulled out of their jobs. They’ve either joined me after quitting, or moved out because they saw a brighter future. The fact is that I did attempt to poach a few, but they didn’t join us.


Before I digress any further, here’s my take on the nominees. First, I think it’s a great idea to have just eight nominees. Yes, there will be people who’ll be unhappy to have not made it to the List, but that’s fine.


It’s a tough call… all the people are very, very worthy winners.


Let’s take a look at the Eight:

> Agnello Dias, Chairman & Co-founder, TapRoot India
> Haresh Chawla, outgoing Group CEO, Network18 and Viacom18
> Madhukar Kamath, MD & CEO, Mudra Group and Chairman, AdAsia
> Man Jit Singh, CEO, Multi Screen Media
> Rajiv Verma, CEO, Hindustan Times
> Ronnie Screwvala, CEO and Founder Chairman, UTV
> Sandeep Goyal, Non-Executive Founder Chairman, Dentsu India
> Vineet Jain, Managing Director, Times Group


I must confess I know who the winner is. So it would be incorrect to be a spoiler. I wish I had written this a week back, but I didn’t get down to it.


But if I were to do a shortlist from the above and for their spectacular performance this year and also the way the voting works, here’s my shortlist:


Agnello ‘Aggie’ Dias, Madhukar Kamath, Man Jit Singh, Ronnie Screwvala and Vineet Jain.


> Aggie for producing some marvellous work in an industry dominated by Ogilvy and JWT.

> Madhukar for dressing up Mudra beautifully and making it matter in the creative world and finally hawking majority stakes to an international major.

> Man Jit Singh for finally getting all MSM channels in top gear

> Ronnie Screwvala because his UTV Stars is doing so very well, the others are on action mode, Bloomberg-UTV is near-sold to Reliance and cementing the deal for 100 per cent stake to Disney.

> Vineet Jain: well, you know about my reservations about Medianet, but otherwise the company rocks. Editorially, both The Times of India and Times Now set the agenda. The Anna Hazare movement and Commonwealth Games scams gave the government sleepless nights thanks to the belligerence of TOI and TN. Times Internet is doing well, and other brands are also flexing their muscles.


As for those not in my shortlist: both Rajiv Verma and Haresh Chawla have been running run their empires with entrepreneurial zeal , and as for Sandeep Goyal, the man who sold his stake to Dentsu for Rs 240 crore, this line from ‘3 Idiots’ comes to mind: ‘Ustaad, tussi great ho!”


Buzz me if you have a story to tell. Confidentiality assured. There are various ways you can reach me: pradyumanm[at], 23050B5D, pradyumanm[at], @pmahesh, 98338 76278.


Disclaimer: Although Pradyuman Maheshwari is CEO of MxMIndia other than being editor-in-chief, he chucks those hats while writing Mediaah! So, the views expressed here are entirely his own and not those of the website and the team that runs it (especially the National Sales Head!).

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One response to “Mediaah!: Oh MiD-Day, my MiD-Day!”

  1. Ramesh Chandran says:

    No wonder your articles were missing. Mxmindia is a refreshing change and a very clean site.I liked the vision for your magazine”Happy to write about those who do not advertise with us”.