Veena Rao is the first non-resident Indian woman to start a newspaper outside of India. NRI Pulse is a national newspaper for Indian-Americans that covers national and international news as it pertains to the community. Veena took some time out of her busy schedule of being the Founder and Editor in Chief of NRI Pulse and keeping the community informed to do an interview with me. She shares her wisdom and the challenging journey she took on to create this popular newspaper.
What is your profession?
I am a print journalist by profession, and own and edit NRI Pulse, an Atlanta based news publication. There is a certificate from the Limca Book of Records hanging in my office that says I am the first Indian woman to edit and publish a newspaper outside India.
Why and how did you get into this profession?
I loved to write as a child and wrote a full detective novel when I was 12. I studied Economics in college and hated it. I guess it was the love of writing that got me into journalism, even though I now realize that newspaper reporting is less about writing and more about conveying the news in concise words.
What did you hope to get out of this career as a professional and on a personal level?
Satisfaction. It is wonderful to be able to wake up each morning to do what you love doing.
What is something unique you bring as a writer or professional in the industry?
The experience I have gathered nurturing my baby over the past 12 years is unique.
What do you wish you would have known about your profession before you started working in it?
I started NRI Pulse on an impulse! A friend suggested that the community needs a newspaper and I should give it a try. I woke up one morning and decided that I would launch a newspaper. I didn’t have a business plan or capital—just a deep belief that I could do it. Sitting in my living room, it seemed like an easy thing to do.
Of course, over the years, I have learned that there is nothing easy about running a newspaper, especially one that relies 100% on advertising revenue. I ran NRI Pulse on a shoestring budget, and did most of the work myself- news gathering, editing, design, layout, newspaper delivery etc.
For many years after I moved to the US, I did not drive. I had tremendous road fear. But when I launched the paper, I had to overcome my fear, because I had to drive to over 70 locations across Atlanta and the suburbs to drop newspaper copies at our racks. I bought a car at a pawn shop for $650 and avoided the highways to get from point A to point B. It would take me many days to finish the distribution. I think I did that for six months until I bought a new car and had the confidence to drive on the Interstate.
But I think my persistence has paid off in the long run. Today, NRI Pulse is a success story, and a leader in the Indian-American news market.
What are some obstacles you have faced in your profession as a woman of color?
I have faced many obstacles in running NRI Pulse, but not because I am a woman of color. In the initial years, however, I have had many people (men and women) tell me it cannot be done, because it has never been done before.
What advice would you give to women of color who want to follow your career path?
Be true to yourself, think outside the box and don’t let others decide what you are capable of doing. Oh, and being persistent helps!
Thank you Veena for sharing your wisdom and experience with us!
If you haven’t already, go check out the NRI Pulse Newspaper here.
Also, follow them on Facebook!
Hopefully Veena’s determination to create something her community needed inspired you as much as it inspired me. If you have questions or thoughts about her her interview or about NRI Pulse please feel free leave a comment below.
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