NT lensmen have made a mark with their talent

Chennai: What makes News Today special is the unique collection of stories that we gather, research and print, breaking them first on our pages. But, what makes the stories special and grab more eyeballs are the very photos by our talented lensmen.

Our Chief Photo-Journalist, Vijay Anand, and his team – B Anand, V M Srinivasan, R Thiyagarajan and A R Jayakumar – individually have around 15 years of experience in the field. Along with a young C Santhosh who joined in 2015, they are one of News Today‘s pillars. On our 36th anniversary, they share their on-field experiences and talk about their time with News Today.

Film roll to digital

Vijay Anand, who has been with us since 1998, traces his journey in the paper right from the black and white days.

He says, “You did not have cell phones back then. No WhatsApp or email. You had a film camera with a black and white negative roll and that was it. For an evening paper, timing is of utmost importance and we had to be on our toes always. It was a hectic, albeit exciting life.”

He credits the success of the paper to the chemistry between reporters and photographers. ‘It is absolutely vital. The photos visually tell the story and will draw the readers’ eyes to the reporter’s research and hard work,’ he says.

Positive impact

Ask any photographer in News Today, they feel that compared to most print media in the industry, our paper gives utmost respect and freedom to its lensmen and that their work gets more recognition here. Photographers Jayakumar and Thiyagarajan say that it was only after joining News Today, that their photographs had the reach required to bring positive changes in society.

Recalling an incident, Thiyagarajan says, “I once took a photograph of the famous statue in front of Gemini bridge after a political rally. The partymen had littered around the place and the picture appeared on our paper. The same evening, our Editor received a call from the Secretariat. We came to know that the-then Chief Minister, late Jayalalithaa, herself had seen the picture and wanted action to be taken to keep the place litter-free. This is the kind of impact News Today has and the reach our photographs get.

Cut, chase & action

With a combined experience of over 50 years among the photographers in News Today, it is natural that they may have many interesting incidents to share. Sometimes, things could also get really rough on the field. Vijay Anand and a reporter here were once chased by thugs while covering a story on land-grabbing. News Today, unruffled by the threats, published the story which involved a senior politician.

Vijay Anand said, “Rowdies even entered our office and threatened. But, only truth matters in News Today.”

Another senior lensman, Anand, talks about a funny incident when he was stoned while covering a protest. “The demonstration turned violent and one group started hurling stones, which hit me on the shoulder. When the guy who threw it, came rushing towards me, I told him I was just a photographer. This guy, held up his hand to say “sorry anna”, and picked up the same stone that hit me, to throw it again at the opposing party. It was a tense moment, at the same time it was funny,” says Anand laughing.

Thank you NT!

The photographers together thank News Today Editor T R Jawahar and the various editors they have worked with over the years, for giving them the freedom to chase these stories, capture the action and also provide space for their work to be published with their names by the side.

NT Bureau