Inked into print in 2011 at a press in Bradford, consistently making headlines which went from reporting historical events to making history itself. Asian Sunday newspaper swiftly grounded itself as a benchmark publication and UK’s first, free Sunday newspaper solo-owned by a woman.
The newspaper quickly became an essential print- the first Sunday title across the UK Asian media sector as it peeled back the layers of glossy print to fixate a limelight on UK-based South Asians and their oriental nuances.
Asian Sunday newspaper began as an axiom in founder Fatima Patel’s brain and with the aid of her parents’ newsagents, where as a youngster she had helped with sorting and delivering newspapers. The abstraction of printing a free, Sunday paper delivered directly to homes, took shape and soon tangible form. The tabloid was a fanfare of colourful stories and became a breakfast table essential as families spent languid Sundays indulging in sweetened tea and crisp anecdotes that served to entertain, educate and link diverse communities in a single chain.
Editorial content for Asian Sunday is a vast spread dichotomised between pages heavy with politics, news and current affairs along with the glittering fanfare of arts, culture and entertainment that transcends stereotypes to encourage interaction and dialogue between various demographics. It is a fusion of cultures and diverse abstractions in one dialect that is crucial to bridge the verbal gaps between communities.
Fuelled by Fatima’s moxie and the success of the Bradford edition in achieving recognition and fostering cross-community relations between the South Asian and local communities, in 2013 she decided to expand her venture and introduce her brainchild to the capital, launching initially in East London.
This endeavour was largely supported by British Airways whose ethos of carving bridges to suture social and
political gaps aligned with that of Asian Sunday. The newspaper’s prosperity was also positively influenced by members of Bradford Council, MPs at the time: Keith Vaz, Anas Sarwar, Yasmin Qureshi, David Ward with a tribute to fellow Bradfordians: Kimberley Walsh, Steven Frayne (aka Dynamo) and Bollywood’s darling Kareena Kapoor Khan.
The glittering success of Asian Sunday at the house of parliament within a mere two years of launching became a quantum leap for Fatima and the tycoon soared to astral heights unaware of the shadow of misfortune quietly trailing her. Following the newspaper launch, Fatima was tragically hospitalised and bed bound with numerous health complications consistent for a few years
The mishap adversely impacted the newspaper and with deteriorating health, managing the Asian Sunday London title and the Asian Sunday Bradford title became impossible, consequently leading to a sudden and despairing wrap. The credits had been cued however avid readers of Asian Sunday craved the delicious warmth that suffused those who perused the newspaper and encouragement via heartfelt letters and texts began pouring in. The passionate words along, an iron will and the unconditional support from Mrs Rokaiya Patel; Fatima’s mother, the zest re-coloured her life and Fatima returned to full time word in 2015.
The pinnacle seemed further than before as challenges obscured her vision. Advertising revenues were flat-lining causing regional print newspapers to struggle financially while printing at a pace fast enough to match the digital tabloids was needless to say a herculean task yet Fatima had sown herself sure wings and with the faith of Icarus, flew to the sun.
Brainstorming ideas to reconceptualise the newspaper, Fatima teased the idea of a weekday title-Asian Standard and immediately gave it the green light for production. Asian Sunday was to be introduced as a multimedia platform producing interesting, visual content to not only satiate the demands of a swiftly, digitalised world but also cut down the extra cost of Sunday production.
The plan was spread out for ten years and with courage, determination and lots of elbow grease the Asian Sunday Kirklees was launched in 2018 with Fatima’s mother as the director under the company name RF publishing which are the combined initials of the dynamic duo. Both Asian Sunday Bradford and Asian Sunday Kirklees carved a niche for themselves in the publishing industry and were bourgeoning rapidly until March 2020 arrived with the announcement of unprecedented lockdowns.
This became a setback for the print as associates, sponsors and advertisers cancelled their contracts on the uncertain possibilities of the corona virus pandemic. However, with strict quarantining and isolation, the need for forming virtual communities became more prominent along with providing credible news to combat the prejudices that had become prevalent online regarding Asian communities. The newspaper was in high demand therefore the directors were swift to take the ten year plan from paper to print and Asian Sunday’s virtual existence became the cynosure.
E-news, Interviews and the talk show- Let’s Talk soon landed us YouTube partner status that ensured Asian Sunday progressed as the supreme, multimedia platform it had morphed into. Finances became stable and as revenue was secured Asian Standard was released as a weekly print news title and today it has successfully proliferated into four regional print news titles; Asian Standard Bradford, Asian Standard Kirklees, Asian Standard North East and Asian Standard Leeds which work alongside Asian Sunday Online- the national brand.
The timeline of the last two years spanning from making Asian Sunday completely digital and rebranding it as Asian Sunday Online has been marked by stellar growth and plans to sustain the much-loved tabloid. The content has been consistently updated with quirky and original concepts to follow such as Simmering Sunday’s- a sumptuous food show, a make-over show, a panel-style guest show and multiple exciting endeavours along with expediting the print section as well where a further six Asian Standard regional titles are planned to launch by 2025.
Overwhelmed with a gentle love for the abundance of her virtual audience, Fatima said: “This past decade our company has seen and faced many challenges, but we are proud that today we have more than 150,000 people who read our newspapers every week and more than half a million readers online”
The tycoon added with much vigour “But what makes me prouder is that we have achieved our mission of ensuring that our newspaper doesn’t just reach the South Asian communities but also engages wider communities, to bridge the gap of understanding respecting other people’s faiths, lifestyles, cultures by way of learning and if anything, to get the conversations started.
“So, a special thank you to all who have helped make this possible.”
Asian Sunday has truly become a news platform owned by the community and we are grateful to everyone who has supported the brand. Having initially started with the abstract idea of creating a loving and inspirational community, we believe our success lies in the hearts of those that have come together through the pages of Asian Sunday. We pledge to continue enlivening your breakfast table discussions with delicious fables, news and entertainment and sincerely hope you stick around to keep reading and supporting the Asian Sunday Online and Asian Standard.