Sunday Observer marks another milestone
Eighty-five years as the leading English newspaper is no easy task,
especially in the English-speaking population is a minor personage. Yet,
the Sunday Observer has come a long way from the post-independence era
to the modern way web news on smart phones and mini notebooks.
Editor Pramod de Silva
Despite many challenges faced by the newspaper industry, the Sunday
Observer has remained the undisputed market leader since its inception
on February 4, 1928. It has produced many illustrious editors who had
maintained the rich traditions of their predecessors.
Producing a quality and readable newspaper accepted by millions of
people around the world is certainly a gigantic task. But the editors,
sectional heads and journalists of the Sunday Observer have worked hard
during various eras to maintain the identity as well as the quality of
The Sunday Observer has remained the undisputed market leader for
eight-and-a-half-decades due to the faith reposed by its widespread
readership who have been with us since the first issue saw the light of
day on February 4, 1928.
Tower of strength
On this memorable occasion, we salute our valued readers who have
reposed faith in the Sunday Observer. They have been a tower of strength
behind the success story of the Sunday Observer.
A great newspaper is hard to define. But readers could identify it at
the first glance - when they see one.
News Department at work
If being great means having the nation taking note of our articles,
having arguments over them, having them reprinted, having them emailed,
if being great means holding a paper packed with national, world,
provincial and city news as well as sports, features, business, arts,
entertainment, together with a separate magazines for children (the
Junior Observer) and the young adults (Sunday Observer Magazine).
In short, there is something for everyone, stylishly written, then
the Sunday Observer is surely among the top of the list.
For, our journalists unarguably make an impact on the news they write
about. As the Sunday Observer celebrates its 85th anniversary, it's time
to have a look at the current editorial team behind the operation.
The Sunday Observer Editorial functions under the direction of Dinesh
Weerawansa, the Editor-in-Chief - a career journalist who has served
ANCL for the past 26 years. Since assuming duties at the Sunday Observer
in 2006 after a 20-year stint in the Daily News, he has injected
innovative ideas to improve the quality of the newspaper.
Pramod de Silva, who functioned as the Senior Associate Editor until
last month before taking over as the Editor of the Business.lk magazine,
continues to make his regular contributions to the features section. He
too is a career journalist who has been with the ANCL for the past 23
Associate Editor Dudley Jansz, a veteran in journalism with over a
three-and-a-half-decade long service at ANCL is the live-wire behind the
editorial operation, guiding sub editors to make a quality product sans
mistakes. Deputy Editor S. Anandakumar works long hours, taking immense
trouble in managing the sub editors, allocating pages and editing
copies. Indunil Thenuwara renders a dedicated service as the Chief Sub
|Deputy Editor (Sports)
A.C. de Silva
|Chief Sub Editor
Experienced journalist Manjula Fernando, who has been with the Sunday
Observer for the past several years after switching over from the Daily
News, will soon take over the News Desk operation with the support of
Uditha Kumarasinghe, our lobby correspondent, and Ranil Wijayapala, who
did a splendid job during the battle against terrorism as a versatile
defence correspondent. The other journalists of the news desk are
Dhaneshi Yatawara, S. Krishnaswamy and Mohamed Naalir. Daily News
Business Editor Shirajiv Sirimane is a regular contributor on
When it comes to a translation, we all seek the assistance of
ever-willing translator K.D.M. Kittanpahuwa, who has an in-depth
knowledge on most matters. The others who do the sub editing of the main
section are Fahima Farisz, Lalin Fernandopulle, Rumaiza Naseer, Jaliya
Wijeyekoon and Benzie Roche.
The Sunday Observer Crime watch is spearheaded by former police
officer turned journalist Jayampathy Jayasinghe, affectionately known as
JJ, with support from Ananda Agalakada. Ananda Wedaarachchi and Ananda
Kannangara served as journalists at the News Desk until last year along
with Assistant News Editor Shanika Sriyananda who resigned after a long
service. She had been a dedicated defence correspondent during the
humanitarian operation and filed many on-the-spot reports and human
The Sunday Observer Features section is headed by Associate Editor
R.S. Karunaratne, who oversees the Junior Observer and the Magazine in a
Ruwan Godage functions as the Features Editor.
Montage, the cultural paradigm of the Sunday Observer was founded in
2006 on a proposal by Indeewara Thilakarathne and Ranga Chandrarathne
under the stewardship of Associate Editor R.S Karunaratne, a pioneer in
cultural journalism in Sri Lanka.
A unique feature of Montage is that it has attracted an international
readership and foreign contributors since its inception six years ago.
Among them are Madeleine Whightman, post-modernist writers Pablo d’
Stair and John Gardner, Internationally acclaimed academics such as
Prof. Wimal Dissanayake and Prof. Yasmine Gooneratne, Dr. Binoy Campmark
, Prof. Tara Brabazon and Dr. Sean Perera.
The galaxy of local contributors include Dilshan Boange, Shireen
Senadhira, Rushda Rafeek, Sivanandini Duraiswamy,
Mahendran Thiruwarangan, Ranga Kalugampitiya, Dr. Kandiah Sriganeshan
and Dushy Parakrama. The present Chief Editor of The Nation, Malinda
Seneviratne too had been a regular contributor prior to his elevation.
The News Department – S. Anandakumar,
Jayampathy Jayasinghe, Pramod de Silva, Uditha Kumarasinghe,
Manjula Fernando, Ranil Wijepala, Mohamed Naalir, Sampath
Manamperi, R. Jayalal, Amila Chandrasiri, Dhaneshi Yatawara,
Ananda Agalakada, Indunil Thenuwara, Dudley Jansz
Sanjeevi Jayasuriya took over as the Business Editor last year,
replacing Deputy Editor (Business) Surekha Galagoda who resigned after a
long service at the ANCL. The SO Biz team includes Gamini Warushamana,
perhaps the most educated business journalist in Sri Lanka with a
Master's in Economics, and Lalin Fernandopulle.
A.C. de Silva, one of the legendary sports journalists that Sri Lanka
has ever produced, heads the SO Sports Desk. Apart from his assistant
Ranjan Anandappa, the former Benedictine cricketer, and Sajeewa
Jayakody, there are several other regular contributors, including Dr.
Elmo Rodrigopulle, former St. Benedict's College captain and Sri Lanka
Board XI spinner who now functions as the Consultant to the Daily News
Sports Editor. Deputy Sports Editor, Daily News Ranjeeva Seneviratne
also helps out with city and late city editions.
Features Department –
R. S. Karunaratne, Anuradha Kodagoda, Ruwan Godage, Fahima
Farisz, K. G. Punchihewa, Mahes Perera
Since the Editor/Junior, Marianne Perera left after 20 years of
service at ANCL, the Junior Observer has come under the wings of senior
sub editor Fahima Farisz with the assistance of senior executive Dehini
Pathiranage and B.A.R. Jayalal.
Anuradha Kodagoda who took over the SO Magazine from Nilma Dole (who
migrated after meeting her soul mate while in the Observer) is a
prominent member of the Features Desk staff, along with Mahes Perera, a
well-known writer on music and arts. Experienced Rajitha Udawatte heads
the Graphic Department which has given a new look and international
class to page layouts. Design Editor Udawatte's energetic team comprises
Graphic Senior Executive Chinthaka Balasuriya, Navindra Merinnage,
Graphic Designers Roshini Ranaweera, Asitha Bamunuarachchi, Saman
Chandrakumara, Indika Edirisinghe and Sanduni Fonseka.
|DGM - Marketing
|Head of Circulation
|SO Advertising Manager
Well-known graphic executive Mahil Wijesinghe makes an outstanding
contribution with his news graphics as well as to develop cartoon
drawing of political and other characters. His recent series titled
‘Terrorism in the guise of Liberation’, projecting anniversaries of LTTE
atrocities, was well received by the people. J.K.G. Punchihewa, better
known as ‘Puncha’ produces the main political cartoon and other
illustrations. Mahil's and Puncha's creations have been vital
ingredients to enrich the SO final outlook.
The Visual Display Terminal section which has Udaya Kumara Perera as
the Supervisor makes every effort in keying hand-written copies of
outside contributors and also to drop corrections done by the sub
editors. The others in the VDT section are Terminal Operators S.M.C.O.
Wijayagunarathna, G.M. Deegodage, M.M.F. Fahriya, S. Aruna Kodagoda,
H.A.M. Fonseka, W.K. Wickremasinghe, T.D.I.S. Perera and clerk W.A.N.
The smooth functioning of the editor's office is also due to much
support from Editor’s Personal Assistant Sharon Palihawadana, Secretary
Sujani Perera and clerk Sampath Manamperi. Clerk Ravindra Jayaweera
keeps a close tab on staff attendance while clerks Stanley Jayaweera,
Chandima Munasinghe, Amila Chandrasiri and W.A.N. Surendra keep the
office in good shape. The photographers comprise Vipula Amarasinghe,
Chinthaka Kumarasinghe, Thilak Perera and Susantha Wijegunasekera while
Kavindra Perera migrated during the year.
The success of Sunday Observer is also partly due to the support of
its Advertising Department headed by DGM - Marketing Waruna
Mallawaarachchi and the team comprising Advertising Consultant Chanaka
Liyanage, Advertising Manager Roy Jayasinghe and Assistant Manager
Balquis Rizvi.Also doing an immeasurable service is the Circulation
Department headed by Head of Marketing and Branch Offices S.
Sunday Observer, over the years, has produced illustrious
journalists. Though the list would be a long one to spell out, among the
distinguished journalists the Sunday Observer produced include the Sri
Lankan Editors from H. A. J. Hulugalle to Ajith Samaranayake H. A. J.
Hulugalle (1930-1931), H. D. Jansz (1931-1952), Tarzie Vittachchi
(1953-1961), Denzil Peiris (1961-1970), Ernest Corea (1970-1973), Lionel
Fernando (1973-1977), Harold Peiris (1977-1988), Leslie Dahanayake
(1988-1990), H. L. D. Mahindapala (1990-1994). In addition those who
were directly associated with the Sunday Observer include Ajith
Samaranayake, Lakshman Gunasekara, Jayatillake de Silva and Rajpal
Abeynayake, the current editor of the Daily News. Despite the current
tradition of high quality editorial and features now appearing in the
Sunday Observer, the paper started as Sunday Observer and Commercial
Advertiser on February 4 , 1834.
Prior to the Sri Lankan Editors-in-Chief, the British served as
Editors of the Observer. Among them were E. J. Darley who was in charge
when the paper was launched, George Winter, Dr. Christopher Elliott, A.
M. Ferguson (1859), John Ferguson (1867), R. H. Ferguson, Charles Tower,
C. Drieberg (1923-1924), P. B. Marshall and J. D. Quirk.
One of the significant aspects of the English press in Sri Lanka was
that it was read by the academia, artistes, political elite, the members
of the Judiciary, business tycoons and the English educated civil
servants and teachers.
The Sunday Observer is the centre of attraction. The other important
specialised areas that attract readers across the social strata are
areas such as Sports and Finance and Political commentaries. Although a
host of rival publications emerged into the newspaper arena over the
years, the Sunday Observer retains it undisputed position as the most
widely read English weekly in Sri Lanka and will proudly march towards
its centenary celebrations in 15 years.