SAN LEANDRO, Calif. – Just days after Gannett Newspapers and rival Gatehouse Media (the two largest print media empires in the U.S.) announced plans to merge their operations together, the top executives of India-West and India Journal met and also decided that it was time to join forces.
“Given the rapidly changing landscape of print media all across the world, joining forces was not only inevitable, but it also made a lot of common sense,” declared both parties.
The challenges for both India-West and India Journal began shortly after the huge mortgage meltdown of 2008. First came the exodus of several corporate advertisers such as State Farm Insurance, AT&T, General Motors and others.
Then came the rapidly growing influence of social media. The power unleashed by both Google and Facebook was unstoppable. These two juggernauts began to affect the bottom line of thousands of small newspapers across the country. Some were forced to shut down whereas several others decided to join forces.
Not only had people begun turning to Google, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for their daily news fixes, but Google and Facebook also began taking advertising dollars away from the smaller community newspapers.
“Just do a Google search of any product and you will see that the first 10 to 15 listings are all paid advertisements,” said Ramesh Murarka, publisher of India-West. “Even when you search for a particular business by its name, the first few listings to appear will be paid advertisements from that merchant’s competitors,” he continued.
“Merchants are willing to pay more and more money to Google to appear as high up as possible in the search results. For businesses that do not entirely depend on the Indian market, shifting their ad dollars to Google and Facebook began making sense to the merchants,” Murarka explained.
Yet, in spite of social media and the dissemination of news on the internet, the market will always be strong for local news as the major U.S. media do not cover their issues of concern. The thriving Indian American community, particularly, seeks coverage of their activities, which can only be disseminated through robust community newspapers.
Executives of India-West and India Journal had met in San Leandro in mid-July and both sides quickly saw the wisdom of joining forces to meet this growing need.
“The deal is going to be structured as an acquisition of India Journal by India-West,” explained Navneet Chugh, founder of India Journal and also CEO of the The Chugh firm. “In this all-stock transaction, India-West will be the surviving entity and will conduct an Asset Purchase of India Journal, he stated.
Parminder Singh, who is currently president of India Journal, will remain with the company as vice president and GM of the Southern California office. Navneet Chugh will join India-West’s Board of Directors and will also offer his services as general counsel for the company.
The final Acquisition Agreement is expected to be signed this week and the first combined issue of India-West and India Journal is slated to be the issue dated August 30, 2019.
India-West was founded in 1975 by Ramesh and Bina Murarka. India Journal was founded in 1988 by Mohinder Singh as LA India and later changed its name to India Journal. It catered largely to the Indian community in Southern California.