NAM Profiles

American-Punjabi Tribune: California’s First Punjabi Newspaper

NCM Profile

NCM, Daniela Rible Posted: Jun 23, 2004

Dr. Satpal Multani has always had a passion for journalism, even as he was delivering newspapers as a boy in London. Last year, a journalist friend in the Indian state of Punjab suggested that he create the first Punjabi newspaper in California, with stories provided from India.

Multani—a full-time optometrist in San Bernardino—had no experience in publishing, printing or distribution.

But in July 2003, the first issue of the American-Punjabi Tribune was published, with Multani as its editor-in-chief. The 32-page newspaper was originally published in Punjabi, though it now includes four pages in English.

“I’m a firm believer in cultural identity, which begins with language,” Multani says. “Having a paper in Punjabi keeps the language and culture alive. It allows the new generation born here to keep in touch with their roots.”

The American-Punjabi Tribune includes stories on California issues, in Punjabi and English, as well as cultural events. “I like to provide my readers with a different perspective of the news, a more centrist view, allowing the reader to decide his or her point of view,” he says.

The Multani’s 17-year-old daughter also contributes two to three stories a week targeting a young audience, on subjects ranging from world issues to movie reviews and recipes.

One of the issues the newspaper addresses is assimilation and intolerance. Multani says people in his culture are more resistant than other cultures to assimilating to their new country. By continuing to address controversial issues, he hopes to change his readers’ thinking and help them understand that disagreeing on issues is healthy.

For example, he is a staunch believer in term limits in India and in the need for fresh ideas in the Indian political system, which he says reeks of corruption. He also thinks it’s important for people to have a say in the party at the grassroots level, which currently is not the case.

“Over time the publication gives a powerful voice, which is needed to emphasize the many ills in my culture,” Multani says.

He says the American-Punjabi Tribune, owned by his wife, Baljinder Multani, is truly an international publication: The newspaper includes eight staff members in India who write stories and assist with the layout and advertising. Public schools, homeopathic doctors and various companies in Punjab advertise in the paper. An additional two staff members, freelance writers and distribution contractors work for the newspaper in the United States.

The newspaper attracts an audience of primarily Punjabi Indians who have immigrated to the United States, followed by a smaller number of second-generation Punjabis. Though the majority of the readers are Sikh, Multani says the American-Punjabi Tribune is not a religious newspaper. The paper is distributed for free in grocery stores, community centers, Sikh temples in California and to paid subscribers.

Multani says he plans to expand the publication. He is preparing to increase its distribution to Phoenix, Dallas and Houston this September. And by the end of the year, he intends to take the newspaper to areas on the East Coast that have large Punjabi communities, such as New York City, New Jersey and Washington DC. Multani hopes the publication will eventually becoming a daily newspaper and make its website, www.americanpunjabi.com, live and interactive. Ultimately, he envisions taking the American-Punjabi Tribune abroad to various cities in England, Canada, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore.

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