Tuesday, 23 September 2014

George Massey Allen

George Massey Allen

George Massey Allen was probably one of the most controversial newspaper editors South Australia has ever seen since the State began.
In 1860, Allen had been working for the Advertiser, but decided he wanted more, and left to form the first English Language Newspaper in the Mid North (the only previous newspapers in the Barossa Valley and Mid North had been German Language Newspapers).
Allen founded his first paper “The Northern Star” in what was at the time, the second busiest city in South Australia, Kapunda

Allen was a man of principal, but also very outspoken, which often got him in serious trouble with the law.
His newspapers were often very controversial as he often voiced his own opinion, without thinking about the possible outcomes of doing such. This eventually led Allen into a liable case in Kapunda, which saw him found guilty, shutting his newspaper down when he was convicted to serve 6 months in prison.
Upon his release, He found The Northern Star he had founded had since been replaced with The Kapunda Herald, which was doing incredibly well. Instead of going back into the printing business, where his outspokenness would probably see him Gaoled again, he instead went into the Hotel business, buying a local Kapunda pub, in which, he could voice his opinions all he wanted.
Pub life wasn’t what Allen desired though, and eventually he moved back to Adelaide in 1867 and founded a new newspaper called “ The Satirist”.
The Satirist was in direct competition with The Register, and Allen's former employer, The Advertiser. The competition did not phase Allen though, and on at least one occasion, his newspaper outsold both his bigger rivals.
Allen had trouble not being outspoken, and as his newspaper lampooned local politicians, events and indeed his competitive newspapers, he eventually found himself in court again charged with liable. Not having the money to keep hiring Lawyers, and prosecuted again, with a gaol sentence, he eventually had to shut his newspaper down

The prospectus of the South Australian satirist reads:
The lamentably abject condition of the daily Press of South Australia, its want of political principle, its hypocritical fear and timorousness, has forced upon the proprietors of the Satirist the palpable necessity of launching forth upon the unimpassioned waters of honesty, truth, and fearless independence, a journal whose aim shall be to guide, not truckle to, the public opinion of this colony. ... What, then, is the demand of the hour? To find and to sustain a fearless advocate of the people's rights and requirements, one who will dare to speak and teach the truth ...” (27 July 1867, p. 2)
When Allen was incarcerated for six months by Judge Wearing, his wife and six children, who needed his income to survive, became destitute and relied on the kindness of others.
A parliamentary enquiry ensued, and eventually a parliamentary Intervention happened, releasing Allen from Prison, with Judge Wearing declaring he had probably misinterpreted the law somewhat harshly but "the great social advantage which has, I believe, resulted to the public by the cessation of so infamous a print as the Satirist." (South Australian Parliamentary Paper no. 145, 1868/69)

Allen and his wife didn't enter into the media again, instead they took up another Hotel, The Alexandra Hotel in Rundle Street.