How to run an Urdu newspaper in New York City.
In the basement of a blithely lit South Asian video and DVD abundance anchored in a active avenue of Jamaica, Queens, 61-year-old Khalilur Rehman adjusts his book glasses as he feverishly edits a hand-written Urdu article, which has to be beatific to Lahore, Pakistan, area it will again be typed out.
On the adverse ancillary of the chaotic table, his Hyderabadi wife, Anjum Khalil, patiently sifts through bedding of printed Urdu belief and scratches out and re-writes sentences. Old issues of newspapers, a few pens and highlighters, calendars and added appointment food lay abominably broadcast over the L-shaped board setup, amidst by four chairs and two desktops. A scattering of overhanging diplomacy aing the computers with a router, scanner, fax-machine and printer brandish from assorted shelves and walls, giving the abode an about warehouse-like feeling. This is the New York newsroom of the oldest and better account Urdu accent newspaper, The Urdu Times. Run by the husband-wife duo, this Pakistani account is the best broadly apprehend Urdu accent bi-weekly in North America and has 14 book and online editions in the United States, Canada and Britain. It additionally enjoys the better apportionment for an Urdu cardboard alfresco of Pakistan, according to its owners. And the paper’s chargeless availability makes it alike added abnormal compared to added publications.
To accumulate up with a rapidly evolving account market, Khalil has additionally set up a website which allows him to baby to a added audience. PHOTOS: PURVI THACKER
Le(a)ding the market
Raised in Islamabad by an upper-middle chic family, Khalil says he had “no absolute job” afore he migrated abroad. “It was about 1979 and I formed in the attic accoutrement or carpeting business,” he reminisces. “I had no ambition of publishing or accomplishing any bi-weekly business.” His aisle from an odd-job immigrant to the founder, editor and administrator of The Urdu Times has been arresting for addition after any journalism accomplishments or publishing infrastructure.
At the time, Indian immigrants in New York had started publishing newspapers centred on South Asian news, which usually had a abrogating angling appear Pakistan. “Now I am a advanced person, but misrepresenting my citizenry and association is not justified,” he says. He additionally recalls that during the 1980s there was a exhaustion in the bazaar for Pakistan-centric news. Both affidavit spurred him to alpha his own newspaper, The Eastern Times, an English accent weekly, as there was no book or calligraphy for Urdu at the time. The cardboard eventually folded, but Khalil had set the auto in motion. He had alone “self-taught and self-made” a publishing business, in an ambiance area he had to await on adopted teleprinters from the Pakistani consulate.
The New York newsroom for The Urdu Times area account is acquired from assorted sources and reworked for a Pakistani American audience. PHOTOS: PURVI THACKER
This adventure eventually paved way for The Urdu Times in 1991, at a time aback there was a absence of Urdu journalism. “I abashed boutique from Manhattan to Jamaica, Queens, and chock-full accustomed accoutrements absolute bedding and rolls of faxed account from the Pakistani consulate,” he explains. Instead he started dabbling with absolute technology to get him his news. With his cardinal 286 basal computer, he managed to agitate out belief for the tabloid-sized Urdu advertisement from Pakistani newspapers and utilised the again anew developed 12-point chantry Urdu assort and stencils for headlines. Every anniversary he appointed a alarm to Lahore, area he would accept had addition almanac bristles or six Urdu belief arising from the bounded media and buzz almanac the clips. He would again transcribe those stories, advance new angles and re-write them. “My accountable amount was annihilation to do with Pakistan, South Asia and Muslims,” he says. He would again administer these affidavit in a bookstore that existed by Grand Central (now by the MetLife building) in Manhattan. With a agents of 18, consisting of four typists, he approved to advertise the paper, but with bare luck. With bound Urdu bi-weekly readers in the community, who didn’t absolutely accept the business or annihilation about bounded advertising, Khalil had no added best but to accomplish his cardboard accessible for chargeless so he could advance readership.
Khalilur Rehman and his wife Anjum Khalil, the duo abaft The Urdu Times, the best broadly apprehend Urdu account bi-weekly in North America. PHOTOS: PURVI THACKER
The Big (B)ad world
For Khalil, accumulation affection with abstruse advances was one thing, but application his ambitious acumen to sustain the business was the charge of the hour. Post-1995, the bi-weekly bazaar broadcast due to the ascent cardinal of Pakistani immigrants to the United States. Application the beginning association as a resource, Khalil started accretion bounded advertisements alignment from halal meat in indigenous grocery stores, bounded South Asian biking agencies announcement for Haj, to Islamic association centre ads. He boring progressed assimilate accumulated ads, which consisted of Western Union money transferring, long-distance buzz cards and corpuscle buzz ads. The engineers and doctors in the Pakistani association were prospering, and so bounded business advertisements additionally accepted to be lucrative.
Khalil’s aggregation in Lahore sends him a alternative of circadian account which he again uses his beat judgement to pick, bend and handwrite into an article. The accessories are again scanned and beatific aback to Lahore area they are typed out and resent to Khalil. The final accumulated cardboard is again beatific to a printer in Continued Island City. PHOTOS: PURVI THACKER
“Corporate ads brought in some appropriate acquirement and our position as the alone Urdu accent cardboard appealed to the community,” he says. For the non-computer adeptness earlier immigrant association that was acclimated to account Urdu papers, The Urdu Times served as a bifold ability — for them to get account in their mother argot from Pakistan forth with blockage adapted with the bounded diplomacy and deals in New York.
Old editions of the bi-weekly can be begin at their appointment in the anatomy of adamantine copies. PHOTOS: PURVI THACKER
Muhammed Farooqi was appointed editor of The Urdu Times, aloof aback Khalil abashed to Jamaica, Queens. But soon, he too realised that it was important for the association to get a aftertaste of the circadian issues and absorb aggressive bounded elements. To ample that gap, he started The Pakistan Post, which focused on in-depth, continued anatomy community-centric news. “For the earlier generation, account a bi-weekly is a basic, it is a necessity,” he explains.
While Farooqi and Khalil accept continued aback circumscribed and set a accepted announcement amount so that both affidavit can mutually coexist, added bush Urdu affidavit accept sprung up to argue aural the South Asian community, which has acquired a bisect in announcement revenue. Both, The Pakistan Post and The Urdu Times can be begin ample ancillary by ancillary aloft racks at several of the city’s association bi-weekly administration spots, but generally abate Pakistani weeklies will be strategically abashed to the top. Accepted spots of administration are alfresco mosques, association centres, South Asian grocery food and indigenous neighbourhoods like Jackson Heights, Murray Hill and alike alfresco the Empire State building.
Overseas sources, bounded angle
Both affidavit accept abashed their above operations to offices in Lahore. This outsourcing has been strategically done in befitting with the ascent costs and blurred readership. “Do you apperceive that one man’s amount actuality covers the amount of employing four bodies in Pakistan,” explains Khalil. He says he fabricated the acquainted accommodation of hiring a 10-man aggregation in Lahore, artlessly because it was added economical to awning agents as able-bodied as press and assembly expenses.
Free copies of The Pakistan Post and The Urdu Times can be begin on assorted artery corners in Queens and Manhattan. PHOTOS: PURVI THACKER
His aggregation in Lahore usually sends him a alternative of circadian news, which he again uses his beat acumen to pick, bend and handwrite into an article. “I pay heed to the American point of appearance and what my association actuality would appetite to hear,” he says. The accessories are again scanned and beatific to Lahore area they are typed out, beatific aback and reworked afore Khalil and his wife accelerate in the final pages for blueprint and cartoon aback to Lahore. The accumulated artefact is again accustomed to Linco Printers based in Continued Island City. This action is again account and both of them alike assignment through the weekend. “I don’t alike apperceive what a Sunday is anymore,” his wife admits.
Farooqi follows a agnate arrangement of PDF, e-faxing and affidavit reading. “I am the better labourer in my office,” he jokes.
The Urdu Times additionally has its allotment of approved columnists and contributors in every burghal area it is distributed. Professors, students, association leaders and alike one-off writers vie to accelerate in a piece. “Look, our contributors do this absolutely out of passion, we hardly pay them added than $150 a month, so there are basal op-eds or aboriginal content,” says Khalil. He mentions an earlier admirer in New York who provides a nazam (poem) on accepted diplomacy every week.
Imran, a Pakistani American, skims through the classified area of The Urdu Times. The cardboard enjoys a ample readership in the New York desi community. PHOTOS: PURVI THACKER
The newspaper’s beginning readership beyond cities such as New York, Washington DC, Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, Toronto, Bradford, Montreal, Maner and Birmingham is a affidavit to its beat and influence. While the paper’s Toronto and London appointment accept a agents of 10 each, best of the American appointment branches don’t accept added than a aggregation of two. “Our Canada and UK issues are flourishing,” he says. Hence, there are added pages in their issues as compared to New York. Khalil is arrant about the actuality that “ads are the master” for a bazaar like New York area apportionment is estimated to be about 15,000 copies weekly. Sometimes if there are added classifieds (featuring acreage and hire ads or alliance ads), the pages can alike go up to 16 or 17. Canada, on the added duke usually has an affair of 25 pages as the burghal pages featuring community-centric contest and account are far added accepted than the all-embracing account items.
All 14 editions of The Urdu Times are scanned and acquaint online as PDF versions. While the advanced folio advance adventure for anniversary affair is the same, because it is usually an all-embracing account item, a apparent aberration aback comparing issues online are the changes in advertisements on the awning folio and accessory banderole alterations, which baby to the bounded admirers in anniversary country. The masthead additionally charcoal uniform, with changes to the flag, depending on the country of issue.
A agenda future
To accumulate up with the pressures of a rapidly evolving account market, Khalil has started a website that “puts all the account beneath one head”. He admits that it has become added about adaptation in such a disturbing bazaar and feels that the added 10 to 12 Urdu accent affidavit are additionally ailing beneath the amazing burden of agenda and online apple of news. “My wife is my better ballast and it is alone two of us actuality in New York who are sailing this ship,” he says. His abiding eyes is to advance a armpit with circadian account updates or “pure news” and again devise assorted bounded and aggressive bounded verticals. “I appetite it to be like BBC Urdu and VICE.”
Farooqi concurs with the appeal for online news, but feels that language-oriented newspapers accept a bigger adventitious of actual in a crumbling book bazaar adverse English papers, which he feel are “already finished.”
Khalil has alike congenital the naskh calligraphy from the absolute nastaliq calligraphy in an attack to accumulate up with the contempo changes fabricated to the Urdu calligraphy and accomplish it added searchable for adaptable accessories and the web. The nastaliq calligraphy is added cursive and ornate, and is still acclimated in The Urdu Times, admitting the naskh calligraphy is added angular and straight. “My book clairvoyant is abashed with this change, but it’s article they accept to get acclimated to. Anyways I am alone giving myself addition 10 to 15 years in this business,” he says.
The fax apparatus starts beeping and Khalil calls for his business manager. “Right now, this man is the best important allotment of my business,” he playfully adds as he athenaeum yet addition old affair in a aback allowance area years of history lies stringed calm in yellowing pages.
Purvi Thacker is a alum from the Columbia Journalism School and currently works as a freelance announcer in New York. She tweets @purvi21.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, April 20th, 2014.
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