The earliest form of the magazine was The Eastern Rotary Wheel, which was founded and edited by Rtn. Alistar MacRae. It was published by A MacRae & Co., from Bombay in 1930. In 1947, Rtn. Alistar MacRae immigrated to South Africa and sold his business. The new owners continued the publication of The Eastern Rotary Wheel.
In 1950, RI closed down its Middle Asia Office in Bombay and The Eastern Rotary Wheel also ceased publication.
PDG Debu Hosali from Bangalore, who was publishing the magazine Mysindia, took over the responsibility of bringing out a Rotary magazine in 1952. The first issue of Rotary News came out on July 15, 1952. The magazine covered areas comprising of India, Burma, Ceylon, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The magazine was printed in the Hosali printing press and in 1960, the circulation was about 7,000. This continued well into the 1960s.
In 1973, steps were taken to designate Rotary News as the Official Regional Magazine of Rotary International. A committee was set up to take over the magazine from its private owner, PDG Hosali. PDG Ramesh Pai, of the Manipal Group, brought out the magazine; PDG Hosali continued to be the editor while PDG Ramesh Pai was the publisher. The magazine was covering the areas India, Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, Sikkim, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
On November 30, 1982, the Rotary News Trust was formed and registered at Udupi by PDG T. Ramesh U. Pai. The magazine was taken over by the Trust from the Manipal Group. The first secretary of the Trust was PDG M K Panduranga Setty.
In 1983, a Hindi version of the magazine, titled Rotary Samachar was introduced. The first issue was released by RI President-elect William B Skelton at the Asia Zone II Institute at Calcutta on January 8, 1983. Rtn. George Paul from RC Bangalore looked after the editorial content. PDG Madhura Chatrapathy was the Associate Editor.
In July 1984, RI recognised Rotary News and Rotary Samachar as the official RI Regional Magazine.
In 1988, both the magazines were taken to Bombay for publishing and PDG Jyotindra Vakil was in charge. He was the Editor of the magazines and Secretary of the Trust from 1988 to 1990.
In November 1990, the magazines were shifted to Madras and PDG B Viswanatha Reddy administered the magazine as the Editor and publisher. In addition, he served as the Secretary of the Trust. The magazine was now designated as the official magazine for India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. The first issue printed in November 1990 in Madras had 32 pages compared to the 24 pages that were being published out of Bombay.
The number of pages rose steadily and in 1966, totaled 64 pages and the magazine was printed in multi-colour.
In 1998 there was a need to revamp the functioning of the magazine and in October, PDG Krishnan V Chari was made the Editor of the magazine and Secretary of the Trust.
From September 2005, Rtn. T K Balakrishnan took over as the Editor. The magazine was adjudged the ‘Best Regional Magazine’ then and the combined circulation of the magazines rose to 1,06,000 per month with a readership of 3,60,000.
Ms. Rasheeda Bhagat has presently taken charge as the Editor of Rotary News and Rotary Samachar. She comes with 36 years of experience in Journalism and her brief is to widen the scope of the content, introduce new sections of general interest and give a fresh new look to the magazine.
The next exciting development is to launch E version of Rotary News. The Rotary News website www.rotarynewsonline.org was launched.
The e-version will be updated with both Rotary and non-Rotary content on a regular basis. RI Director P T Prabhakar is committed to give this website a new look and quality content so that non-Rotarians will be attracted to visit our website and stay on to read its content. This is to take Rotary, its values and work to the larger universe out there.
Today, Rotary News and Rotary Samachar enjoy a subscription base of 1,13,000 a month.