K M Mathew, doyen of Malayalam journalism and chief editor of Malayala Manorama has passed away. He was 93. Mathew, who was suffering from age-related ailments, was active till a few months back. His end came at his residence on Sunday morning.
Born as the eighth son of K M Mammen Mappillai and Kunjaadamma on January 2, 1917, Mathew started his career as a planter in Chikamagalur and later migrated to the then Bombay as a businessman looking after family business. He entered the world of journalism in 1954, when he joined the family-owned Malayala Manorama in 1954 as its general manager and managing editor after its relaunch under his elder brother K M Cheriyan. He took over as its Chief Editor on the death of Mr Cheriyan in 1973.
Under Mathew’s stewardship, Malayala Manorama was poised for an entirely new journey into expansion and modernization helping it to scale new heights. Mathew’s efforts in infusing professionalism into journalism not only produced a crop of new young talents but also changed the face of newspapers in Malayalam. Mathew is credited with the introduction of the concept of editionalising with larger share for local news and reader-friendly packaging through professional page designing in Manorama, which in turn impacted the entire newspaper industry in Kerala.
Under Mathew, the Manorama daily grew to 17 editions and the group took to specialized journals and today it has nearly four dozens of publications in Malayalam, English and Hindi. It was also during his period at the helm that the group spread its wings into newer media including TV, radio, music and the web.
He was presented with Padmabhushan award in 1998 for his contribution to journalism in addition to a number of privately instituted awards.
Mathew has been the president of the Indian Newspaper Society; chairman of PTI; founder trusty and chairman of 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 of International Press Institute among other positions.
He has penned two books, an autobiographical “Ettamathe Mothiram” and “Annamma”, written in memory of his wife.
Mathew, who inherited the family owned Manorma, started in 1888 by his great uncle Kandathil Varughese Mappillai and later managed by his father K M Mammen Mappllai and his elder brother K M Cheriyan, also
over saw the process of handing over his baton to the fifth generation when his grand children took up the responsibilities.
He married Annamma, a pioneer of culinary literature in Malayalam in 1942. She had been the editor of ‘Vanitha’ the women’s journal from Manorama Group till her death in 2003. They have four children, Mammen Mathew, editor, Malayala Manorama, Philip Mathew, (managing editor), Jacob Mathew (executive editor) and Thankom Mammen.
Mathew’s body which was placed at his house at Mount Vardha on the outskirts of the town for the near and dear ones to pay their last respect, would be brought to the Malayala Manorama headquarters on Monday at 1 pm for the public to pay their homage. His body will be placed at the family vault at the cemetery of Puthenpally Church at 4 pm.