K.M. Mathew, Chief Editor of the mass-circulation Malayalam newspaper Malayala Manorama, passed away at his residence here on Sunday morning.
He was 93. He had age-related ailments, but was active and at work till a few months ago.
Born as the eighth son of K.C. Mammen Mappillai and Kunjaadamma on January 2, 1917, Mr. Mathew started off as a rubber planter in Chickmagalur in Karnataka. He later went to Bombay to look after another line of the family business. He joined the family-owned Malayala Manorama in 1954 as its General Manager and Managing Editor under his elder brother K.M. Cheriyan, following the death of their father, Mammen Mappillai, who was the Editor from 1904. Mr. Mathew became the Chief Editor of the newspaper, founded in 1888, on the death of Cheriyan in 1973.
Mr. Mathew's brothers included the late K.M. Mammen Mappillai, who was Chairman of the Chennai-based tyre major, MRF Limited.
Under his stewardship, Malayala Manorama embarked on a new journey of expansion and modernisation. He encouraged young talent, and several professionals were specially trained and oriented to a popular style of journalism that in many ways changed the face of newspapers and the style of newspapering in Malayalam.
Manorama introduced reader-friendly editorial packaging techniques and professional page designing under his guidance and consolidated its leadership in circulation in the regional market. The newspaper today has a daily circulation of about 18 lakhs, with 17 printing centres in Kerala and elsewhere. The group has nearly four dozen publications in Malayalam, English and Hindi. The group runs a television channel and FM radio channels in Malayalam.
Mr. Mathew was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 1998.
He served as the president of the Indian Newspaper Society; chairman of the Press Trust of India; founder-trustee and chairman of the Press Institute of India and Research Institute for Newspaper Development; executive committee member of the Federation of International Newspaper Publishers and Editors based in France and a consultant to the International Press Institute.
Mr. Mathew has written two books, Ettamathe Mothiram (The Eighth Ring), an autobiography, and Annamma, in memory of his late wife who made a name for herself with a range of cookery books. Mrs. K.M. Mathew, as she chose to be known in public, was the Editor of Vanitha, a magazine for women, until her death in 2003. They have four children: Mammen Mathew, Editor; Philip Mathew, Managing Editor; and Jacob Mathew, Executive Editor of Malayala Manorama. Thankom Mammen is their daughter.
Mr. Mathew's body, placed at his house for the near and dear to pay their last respects, will be brought to Malayala Manorama's headquarters here by 1 p.m. on Monday for the public to pay homage. The body will be placed in the family vault at the cemetery of Puthenpally Church here at 4 p.m.