In any print media organisation, there are a number of people who work backstage to publish the newspaper that finally reaches the reader. In the Daily Mirror and the Sunday Times one such person who will never be forgotten is Victor Emmanuel who passed away recently.
When I first met him in the Daily Mirror he was unaware of my arrival since he was busy checking the ‘dummy’ for that day’s paper. He told me that the ‘dummy’ was extremely important as he was coordinating the proof reading and the sub-editing of all pages of the newspaper to ensure nothing would go amiss in the final print.
Later, when a special layout division was set up, he took it on himself to liaise with the layout.
He liked talking about the tremendous experience he had gained at the Independent Newspaper Ltd. It is now defunct but in the 1960’s and 70’s it boasted of publications such as the Sun, Davasa, Weekend and a multitude of other publications.
Emmanuel was there at that time when printing meant Lino typesetting, page making, casting, block making, printing and thereafter the dispatch of the papers was in charge of a large workforce who showed the same conscientious dedication to see that the paper sans spelling and grammar mistakes reached the readers. He perfectly executed this task for the Daily Mirror as a coordinator.
"He liked talking about the tremendous experience he had gained at the Independent Newspaper Ltd. It is now defunct but in the 1960’s and 70’s it boasted of publications such as the Sun, Davasa, Weekend and a multitude of other publications"
He joined the Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. in 1991 and since then he was considered by the rest of those working at institution as a familiar sight. I do not think he ever took leave except perhaps when he once went to visit his daughter. Day in day out, he would come before noon and be at his desk telephoning for the ‘dummy’ and then coordinating with the proofreaders and the sub desk. He brought to my mind values that today are fast moving out of society.
His dedication to work was incredible as he phoned every section to find out whether the work was finished and instilled in those who worked with him especially the proof readers to carefully peruse copy and if they did not understand or know a word to refer to the dictionary!
He was impatient with those who were careless and many a time he annoyed some with his school master attitude, but he was an example of a generation that believed that whatever task entrusted to them had to be performed perfectly.
As age caught on and illness affected him yet he did not want to leave his niche in office so he came and shuffled across with the dummy to meet the sub-head then allocated pages to the proof readers. His dedication was such that he would not only re-read the proof reader’s first copy but also the final when it came out from the layout.
Later when he found it difficult to walk, he volunteered to come to office by wheelchair as long as he could manage to do so.
I consider it a privilege to have known Victor Emmanuel and I believe that all those who came in contact with him especially the young would have seen in him the values of dedication, commitment and conscientiousness to work and time schedules which prevailed in earlier generations and are being gradually devalued today. Victor Emmanuel was a perfect gentleman and a perfect employee.