30 March 2000. That was a good day in my life, because I applied for the post of Layout Designer (DTP) in News Today. They called me for an interview. I attended the interview conducted by Madhukar Rao.
Kandavel Subramaniam, senior layout designer, gave a test for three column stories done on Apple Mac Pagemaker 5.0. It was all very interesting. Almost all tests over, I was waiting for the result.
The clock was ticking away. When it touched 12 noon, Kandavel said, “Wait Mr Sundararajan, Madam KJ (Executive Director Kausalya Jawahar) wants to see you.” Time was 12.15 p.m. Madam KJ called me. I didn’t know why. I entered Madam’s room and saw Editor and Managing Director T R Jawahar also.
After I wished them, the first thing she said was “Sit down Mr Sundararajan.” From then on, I am still ‘sitting’ in News Today.
She told me straightaway, “This is your remuneration. If you accept, you can join immediately.” I accepted the conditions and joined 3 April 2000.
I entered the News Today fort full of happiness. On the first day, Kandavel asked me to do the business page layout. Daily in the afternoon, Kandavel explained to me how the fonts are used, the layout format and all the rules and regulations.
After a week, I learned the rudiments and started the layout for the business page. Reporter-cum-sub-editor Vani Doraisamy gave me agency stories and press releases. I keyed in the stories and fit the layout simultaneously.
Though Vani was initially skeptical about my skills, she and Kandavel understood my interest and motivated me.
The management slowly gained confidence in me and shifted me to page 6 i.e., Sports page. At the time, K Balakumar (KBK) was the sports sub-editor. He would give me the stories in a floppy.
KBK gave me enormous freedom and I did the layout in my own fashion, but sticking to NT‘s rules and regulations. KBK liked my work and told the Editor that Sundararajan was doing the layout well and sticking to the deadline. He also appreciated me.
Then I moved to page 4, page 3, and within three years, I learned all the layout rules. I would share ideas and suggest changes with KBK. He would pass the message to the Editor who accepted it.
After three years, the management made me permanent staff with increased remuneration. Now, I moved to doing page 1 with G Babu Jayakumar (BJK). I would share my thoughts with BJK, who had vast experience in journalism and had layout sense. He guided me with a lot of ideas and improved my layout skills within a year.
Five years flew by and I enjoyed my work where I was given the freedom to share my ideas and thoughts. Meanwhile, a problem cropped up due to my mistake. Though the MD asked me, “Ennappa Vedi Vechuttiya?”, I was given an opportunity to correct myself. And from then on, I have been very careful and to execute my work without errors.
The management not just gave full support but also some important assignments. I am proud to say that I was involved in the font change in layout and I created a new style sheet.
Madam KJ appreciated the style and the MD also encouraged me to keep up the good work.
Maalai Sudar Editor M Subramanian has provided me support and encouragement in my work. Associate Editors, Bhaskar Sai and M Bharat Kumar, give enormous support to me. Sometimes, I share story ideas with Bhaskar and Bharat and, accepting them, they would pass them on to the reporters.
I remember with gratitude Bharat recommending to the management to give a byline for me for a page 8 story design for the first time in NT‘s history (Design: R Sundararajan). That was very motivating.
Can a designer who works in the background ask for more? Yes, he can. He can ask for support from the editorial team, photographers and colleagues which I get in abundance.
I work with a single motive – not to hear those words from the Editor: “Innikku Ethum Vedi Vechirukkiya?”