Exclusive: The first move towards adopting Rupert Murdoch’s paid model for news content in India has been taken by news house Malayala Manorama, the largest publication in Kerala, which will no longer be offering its online content for free.

By next month, anybody who wants to read their content online will have to pay for it, John Mammen Mathew, Malayalam Manorama’s Deputy Editor and Chief General Manager, told MediaNama at the sidelines of CII’s Conference on Digital Media held recently. At a panel on ‘News in the Digital Age’, Mathew firmly signaled that readers must start paying for news online. “Newspapers are dying. It’s high time they (readers) started paying, otherwise the next ten years will be horrible for journalism,” he said.

The conversion from free to paid will be done in a phased manner, beginning with its magazines. Some of the organisation’s magazines include The Week, The Man, Vanitha and She.

Trials for the magazines were to begin this week; there will be a payment gateway linking to a bank on the website. “By August 17th, we should have converted all our online offerings into paid model,” said Mathew.

Discussing Malayala Manorama’s classifieds focus – the company has Matrimonial, Real Estate, Jobs, Auto, Personals and Business classifieds – Mathew said its matrimonial classifieds site M4Marry.com was an example of how the company chose to go paid from the start, and that it successfully broke even in year one of operations.

We would also like to say R.I.P., K.M Mathew, Chief Editor of Malayala Manorama and an eminent leader in the Indian media fraternity, who passed away today.

Any thoughts on what your expectations are when it comes to paying for online news articles? What would you pay to read a feature?