Iranian magazine ‘Namak’ to unite community

Daily Sundial

A new magazine publication that focuses on the lives of Iranians, Iranian-Americans and the Persian culture is making its way through the magazine industry, and a CSUN student is at the top, serving as the publication’s editor in chief.

Editor in chief of Namak and CSUN student Maggie Pourabedi revealed the significance of the name of the publication, which means “salt” in Farsi, the native language of Iranians.

“Salt is a seasoning and preservative,” said Pourabedi, a journalism major. “It is an ingredient that gives flavor and zest. It is stimulating and provocative.”

She also described the ingredient as once being valued as highly as gold. Therefore, Namak strives to become valued as such, she said.

Pourabedi said she is mainly responsible for approving stories and lining them up to structure the layouts and suit the organization of the entire magazine.

Pourabedi aligns the stories in a way that contributes to the same theme. She said she covers legal business well copy editing and proofing.

“In every issue, we come up with a theme,” Pourabedi said. “The upcoming issue is about empowerment, where we talk about empowering features of our community.”

Namak, is an English-language ethnic magazine established by its publisher Behzad Tabatabai, who has been in the publishing business for more than 15 years.

The publication that has been 13 years in the making, and organizers have only succeeded in achieving publishing success this year.

“I love the written word,” Tabatabai said.

The first issue was developed through collaborative efforts by a team of volunteers who continuously help to promote the magazine, in Spring 2005.

The main purpose of the magazine is to energize, educate, entertain and unite Iranians as a way to make a positive image for the community as an example for other communities.

The magazine is printed in English because it is an effective way to reach out to Iranian/Persian communities who do not read Farsi.

Namak is primarily designed to be reader-friendly, and the publication encourages Iranians to become more involved and knowledgeable about their own culture.

The publication is intended to remain apolitical and non-religious, focusing only on feature-type, “Reader’s Digest” type of news, Pourabedi said.

Its editorial scope extends from topics of culture, art, lifestyle, personalities, entertainment and health, to substantive pieces on global issues and what it means to be Iranian.

“Covering diverse topics furthers our mission to bring people together and speaks directly to the multicultural identity many Iranians are proud of,” Pourabedi said.

The launch of Namak was very expensive, Pourabedi said. She said the first issue was actually supported by paid “congratulations” advertisements from friends, and that the publisher largely funded the second issue. There’s room for fruition for a small, yet professional publication, and Pourabedi emphasized that once Namak becomes widespread and lucrative, that it would start paying its volunteer employees.

“We try to advertise and raise money, but for right now it’s just a labor of love,” Tabatabai said.

Though community-based and still new in the publishing business, Namak maintains high quality by printing on glossy, full-color paper.

The magazine retails at $3.99 per issue and $36 for 12 issues through subscription. Subscribers pay 25 percent less than the regular price. Namak is published on a quarterly basis: The second issue is on newsstands and the third is in progress. Its circulation is 11,000.

“We’re working to make it a monthly magazine,” Pourabedi said.

Namak is now available in hundreds of retail locations in Southern California, as well as in the San Francisco Bay area, Washington, D.C., New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and Houston.

“It is headquartered in Los Angeles with reporters and subjects spanning the globe,” Pourabedi said.

Namak does not have a magazine stand anywhere at CSUN, but for a limited time, copies of the magazine can be picked up for free from a table outside the Journalism Department’s main office in Manzanita Hall, Pourabedi said.

Although Namak is intended for Iranians, anyone who interacts with them or has some experience as an immigrant will find the publication relevant and of much benefit, Pourabedi said.

Pourabedi emphasized the importance of an ethnic publication such as Namak.

She said, as an immigrant community, Iranians have the unique opportunity to draw on the better of the two worlds: their culture and the one into which they have integrated. Namak reflects this duality by addressing issues that are of interest to Iranians, not just issues about Iranians.

She also believed that Namak is creating a historical document of sorts.

“We realize we are publicly representing our community and strive to do it with class, distinction, style, intelligence and wisdom to the best of our ability,” Pourabedi said. “We understand the power of the written word, and use it to unite, inspire and uplift people.”

Charity events, such as one held on Oct. 16 at the Comedy Store in Hollywood, are some ways the publication’s organizers give back to society. They called the charity benefit event “Humor of Humanity” in response to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, and the event sold out.

Tabatabai said it was one of the memorable and successful events the publication’s organizers have put together so far. He also mentioned that it was the most fulfilling way the Persian community could have donated to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

According to Sepideh Nasiri, managing editor, all of the proceeds went to the relief effort.

“I feel that we (Iranians) need to contribute to our own community by putting ourselves in a better light (via charity events) as a positive image for the Persian community,” Nasiri said.

The Oct. 16 event was a joint effort between organizers of Namak and the Iranian-American Bar Association.

“This is what the magazine is really about,” Behzad said. “It’s about bringing people together – inspiring people to be bigger and have bigger lives.”

Jelly Mae Jadraque can be reached at