There is no “digital first” strategy at 169-20 Hillside Avenue, a nondescript shop offering photo services, money transfers and video rentals in Jamaica, Queens. From its basement, Khalil ur Rehman, a first generation Pakistani immigrant, has been publishing the Urdu Times for over two decades.
In his office are two computers, a fax machine, and a phone. “Before, we used to actually have a printing press here,” said Rehman, amid the distant rumble of the F-train that passes under every few minutes. Less frequently, water discharged from a toilet above noisily whooshes down a pipe next to the publisher’s desk.
It’s a barebones operation, but Rehman’s weekly newspaper has 14 editions today, with a total of nearly 100,000 copies printed every week. These include nine cities across the United States, and standalone editions in Canada and the United Kingdom. “Now, I’m trying to see if I can start an edition in the Middle-East,” he said in early March. “I’m travelling there next week.”
At a time when the death of print media is regularly predicted, Rehman’s Urdu Times is going strong. And it isn’t alone.