Chamara, who shone with his journalistic brilliance in the Lakbima and Rivira newspapers was a revelation to most traditional-minded journalists at Lake House, which he joined a couple of years ago. With his new ideas and positive thinking, Chamara threw archaic conventions out of the window and infused a fresh perspective to news stories and features.
He could enliven even the most jaded story with his unique brand of reportage and writing style. Be it politics, social commentary or the occasional foray to sport, Chamara managed to shed light on relevant issues and enlighten the reader with the complete, no-holds barred picture. In fact, journalists and translators working for ANCL’s English newspapers tasked with translating some of Chamara’s copies for the benefit of the English readership were often at a loss for words as they struggled to find the matching English phrases for his literary nuances in the Sinhala language. In fact, the management discerned that his talent should not be wasted on a couple of articles that appear on the inside pages of a weekend newspaper.
Chamara, they correctly guessed, was capable of doing far more. Being the innovative trailblazer that he is, Chamara was naturally the company’s first choice for editing a new path breaking newspaper called the Resa launched a few months ago. Many questioned the wisdom of having another new newspaper, but Chamara proved his critics and detractors wrong with the very first issue of Resa, which defied convention and eschewed stereotypes. Chamara knew that the secret of a young newspaper’s success would be an equally young staff. Being young himself, Chamara identified himself with the ideas and aspirations of his young staff, who came out with excellent copies under his able guidance.
Chamara derived much satisfaction from mentoring his young staff members and always told them that “you do not have to grow old to rise to the top in journalism”. They are the ones who are most likely to miss Chamara’s warm personality and brilliant mentorship. But it was also no secret that many older journalists turned to Chamara to unravel his memory of people, places and events.
With Resa proving to be a new landmark in local journalism, Chamara was destined for a higher calling–editing the flagship Sinhala newspaper of ANCL, The Silumina. Most young journalists would be intimidated by the prospect of working for the Silumina, leave alone editing it, but Chamara took this challenge in his stride. Again, he brought his unique style of journalism over to the Silumina, which had stagnated for quite some time for want of fresh ideas.
He edited the Silumina for only a few weeks before his life was tragically cut short, but they proved to be a new beginning for the newspaper. The reading public responded enthusiastically to the new ideas and insights he introduced for the first time to a Sunday Sinhala newspaper. From eye catching pictures (and captions) to attractive headlines, Silumina was a pleasure to behold under his editorship. One can only imagine the heights that would have been climbed by Resa and Silumina had he lived on. Chamara leaves a rich legacy that is hard to beat in the sphere of Sinhala journalism. A young child will miss his father and a young woman her husband, but in the bigger scheme of things, an entire fraternity of journalists will miss a remarkable journalist whose incisive reporting, writing and above all, mentoring will shape and define local journalism for decades to come.