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Sunday, 3 February 2013

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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.

Outgoing Senior Associate
Editor Pramod de Silva
Associate Editor
R.S. Karunaratne
Associate Editor
Dudley Jansz

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 newspaper.

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.

Career journalist

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 years.

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 Editor.

Deputy Editor
S. Anandakumar
Deputy Editor (Sports)
A.C. de Silva
Chief Sub Editor
Indunil Thenuwara

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 'development'.

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 interest stories.

Design Editor
Rajitha Udawatte
Features Editor
Ruwan Godage
Business Editor
Sanjeevi Jayasuriya

VDT Supervisor
Udaya Kumara

The Sunday Observer Features section is headed by Associate Editor R.S. Karunaratne, who oversees the Junior Observer and the Magazine in a consultancy capacity.

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
Waruna Mallawaarachchi
Head of Circulation and
Branch Offices
S. Sendanayake
SO Advertising Manager
Roy Jayasinghe

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. Surendra.

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. Sendanayake.

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.

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