Media mogul K.M. Mathew was a workaholic till end (Lead Obituary)

August 1st, 2010 - 6:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi By Sanu George
Kottayam (Kerala) Aug 1 (IANS) Till the last days before his death, media mogul K.M. Mathew kept working in the Malayala Manorama office despite his advanced age, actively taking part in meetings and airing his opinions on news, especially business - his forte.

Mathew, the 93-year-old chief editor of Malayala Manorama, passed away early Sunday at his residence here in Kerala. He is survived by three sons and a daughter.

During his long journalistic career, Mathew was the chairman of Press Trust of India, president of the Indian Newspaper Society and the chairman of the Audit Bureau of Circulation besides holding numerous other positions. He was also a member of the Press Council of India, wage boards for working journalists and non-journalists and Central Press Advisory Committee.

Mathew became the managing editor of Malayala Manorma in 1954 and became the chief editor after his brother passed away in 1973.

The highly acclaimed English news magazine, The Week, was his brainchild. But, if there was one thing Mathew failed to achieve was an English daily from the Manorama group.

The first issue of Malayala Manorama appeared March 22, 1890. It started as a four-page weekly newspaper published every Saturday and since then it has not looked back. Today, it is a media group that has 48 publications with Manorama having a circulation of more than 1.8 million copies.

It was under Mathew’s stewardship that the Manorama group of companies adapted to the changing times in the media industry and did not have to think twice before entering into the arena of the electronic media. He also launched the online medium of Malayala Manorama.

Mathew’s position as a colossus in the media industry could be gauged from the fact that he always had the first audience with any political leader passing through Kottayam, which included even Pope John Paul II on his Kerala visit in 1986.

Mathew was also close to the Nehru family and that became apparent as one of the first condolences that came Sunday was from chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance, Sonia Gandhi.

Mathew, who was awarded the Padma Bhushan, the country’s third highest civilian honour in 1998, was one of the founding members of the Baselious College, Kottayam in 1964.

Belonging to the Syrian Orthodox Church, Mathew was the leading light of the church which has a strength of more than 2.5 million. His contribution to the church activities was always looked upon by all.

Born Jan 2, 1917, Mathew, is the son of K.C. Mammen Mappilai, a pioneer of Malayalam journalism, and Kunjannamma.

Mathew’s memoirs, “Ettamathe Mothiram”, published a few years ago, was highly appreciated for its literary and historical value.

He had also penned a moving memoir on his wife Annamma, who died a few years ago. She was a culinary expert and chief editor of Vanitha, a women’s magazine in Malayalam and English.

His son Mammen Mathew is the editor of Malayala Manorama, Philip Mathew its managing editor and Jacob Mathew the executive editor.

Among the publications launched by Mathew are Vanitha, The Week, the farmer’s magazine Karshakasree, Magic Pot in English and the Manorama Year Book in Malayalam, English, Hindi, Tamil and Bengali.

Mathew also revived the elite literary magazine Bhashaposhini. Manorama Weekly became the largest selling weekly in the country under his leadership.

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