Getting Your South Asian On: Washington Masala

Monday, July 27, 2009

Thought this might be some interesting news for anyone in the area looking for some new reading material:

It hardly seems the time, given the economy, to start a new magazine. But Rick Khosla, an Indian entrepreneur in Virginia, is doing just that, complete with a fancy launch party in August.

Washington Masala, which is modeled after Washington Life, will cater to educated, affluent South Asians in the area. "It's a very niche market," Khosla said recently at a Starbucks in Capitol Hill with galleys of the 96-page first issue. "That market has always been overlooked." A lot of the $100,000 for the first issue came from Khosla's pocket. But he believes the magazine will become self-sustaining within three months.

Across the country, thousands of newspapers, magazines, and television and radio stations are aimed at certain immigrant groups. Many are in languages besides English, and they deal with events in the homeland and acculturation issues that mainstream media do not address.

A poll in the spring by San Francisco-based New America Media shows that despite the poor economy, consumption of ethnic media is growing. About 150 outlets are in the Washington region. "In some ways, it is both the best of times and the worst of times," said Sandip Roy. He is an editor at New American Media, an association representing 2,000 ethnic news organizations. "They are definitely not immune to the pressure on media going on all over the place ... but in terms of audience, the interest has never been higher." Khosla's magazine will include news about Bollywood, profiles of successful local South Asians and tips on getting into local universities.