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Indian is first South Asian publisher of Gannett

Ketan Gandhi is the first Indian to occupy such a high post in a US daily newspaper, reports Kanupriya Vashisht.

india Updated: Sep 20, 2005 19:17 IST

Indian immigrant, Ketan N Gandhi, was chosen president and publisher of the Gannett Co.'s Home News Tribune in East Brunswick, N.J., becoming the first South Asian publisher of a US daily newspaper.

The Gannett Co., Inc. is a leading international news and information company that publishes 101 daily newspapers in the US, including USA Today, the nation's largest-selling daily newspaper.

Gandhi, 42, replaces John Ziomek, who retired after 33 years with Gannett.

The journey for Gandhi started in 1984. He came to the US after an undergraduate degree in accounting from Bombay University, and a diploma of business management from K C College, Bombay. Gandhi entered through the doors of Gannet in 1986, as a staff accountant with the Valley News Dispatch. He hasn't left ever since.

"I got the job as staff accountant with Valley News Dispatch more out of necessity than my interest in working for a newspaper. I just needed a job," Gandhi says. He was Dispatch's first Indian employee.

It was a challenge for Gandhi to accept and get accepted in the American milieu. In his effort to adopt America, he says he fell in love with American Football and the Pittsburgh team, Steelers. "That helped in bridging the gap and assimilating well in the community." There has been no looking back ever since.

Gandhi has now been with Gannett for 19 years. Most recently as vice president of finance and controller for Gannett's Atlantic Group and the head of the Asbury Park Press's circulation and online divisions.

In 2003, Gandhi received Gannett's top corporate honour, the Chairman's Ring, for his work in finance. He has also been honoured with three President's Rings, also a top honour within the company.

"When you are measured on performance, the nationality does not become a bonus or a barrier. You do have to be personable and do your best in your field," Gandhi says.

As president and publisher, Gandhi's job is to increase the cash flow for the Gannett shareholders by increasing the number of readers and advertisers of the products produced in the Middlesex and Union counties. He feels he was chosen for the top job because he has over 18 years of progressive experience with Gannett newspapers and is familiar with the market.

According to the South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA), editor of the Oregonian in Portland and past president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Peter Bhatia, is the only other top-ranking journalist of South Asian background.

Speaking of the Indian media scene, Gandhi says, "I am bullish about media industry in India." He feels that very soon Indian media companies will go through consolidations and be on par with the western world in using technologies like cell phone and online in distributing information. "Its strength is in the growth of the literate population, especially in English language," he says.

According to Gandhi, the pools of applications from minorities in America are not that great. "We need to promote the benefits of our industry and attract young kids to select our industry as career of choice," he says.

A doting father of two, Gandhi lives in Farmingdale with his wife, Jocelyn, and their two daughters, Emily, 9, and Ava, 5. He enjoys spending summer days on the beach with his girls and watching football in the fall.

First Published: Sep 20, 2005 19:17 IST