(This is a reproduction of an article that appeared in the Ceylon Observer on June 13, 1965)
By the Editor, Ceylon Observer
When Lord Northcliffer opened Carmelite House to hold his gigantic newspaper operations which included the ‘Daily Mail’ and the ‘Evening News’, Mr. D.R. Wijewardene, who was then at Cambridge University, contrived to get an invitation to the opening ceremony for himself and two other Ceylonese.
Just before they walked into the imposing building Mr. Wijewardene paused on the pavement outside.
“Someday ‘he mused’ I hope to have a newspaper operation like this and a building as magnificent”.
They were obviously his innermost ambitions, but the secret thoughts were uttered aloud.
His two companions were amused at what seemed to them so preposterous a hope.
From that time onwards almost every day, one of these companions recalled recently they taunted him with the skeptical question: “So how are your newspapers progressing. And how is that building coming up”.
The dream indeed came true, but between the hope and its achievement there were ears of labour consecrated to that single purpose of a group of national newspapers which would speak for the people’s aspirations to freedom.
Those journalists who lived in the shade of a man who like Nehru was a great banyan tree with the roots of his thought going deep into every layer of the nation-its politics and its culture-remember him as a man of ceaseless labour.
He was his own master, but he was also the one who most scrupulously observed in himself the disciplines he set up for his own employees.
He came to work at 11 a.m. There was never any deviation from that time fable. He worked till 1 p.m.
Then home for lunch and back again to work at 3 p.m. This second spell would last till 11 p.m. when the first edition of the ‘Daily News’ was out.
What impressed this journalist then in his tenderfoot years was Mr. Wijewardene’s eye for a good article.
That which gave the Sunday “Observer” a galloping circulation were several outstanding feature articles topical, intellectually stimulating and illuminating.
They were all Mr. Wijewardene’s choice.
There was the “Windsor Tapestry, the story of the Duke of Windsor’s abdication written by Compton Mackenaie. He chose the series “what I believe” a symposium of the sharpest minds of the time such as Julian Huxley giving their controversial views on faith, reason and civilisation.
This sense of what would grip the popular imagination showed itself at the beginning of his newspaper career. He printed in the “Dinamina” a reproduction in colour of the national flag. This issue of the Dinamina had to be reprinted on another day too to satisfy the clamour for copies.
He made every one of the six newspapers he ran. They were the daily monuments to his sixth sense as a journalist whose talents were many sided.