G K Chesterton

‘Mr G. K. Chesterton’s speech ‘The Old Journalist and the New’

Whitefriars Club Dinner, 6 November 1903

From Whitefriars Journal, vol. II, no. 4, January 1904, p. 81.

Mr G. K. Chesterton was our Club Guest on Friday November 6th, when Friar J.A. Stuart acted as Prior. The topic of conversation was ‘The Old Journalist and the New’, but most of the talk was centred upon a consideration of the modern popular newspaper, and one heard very little of the journalist himself. Mr Chesterton referred to the French Press and to the large part taken by eminent authors in France in the discussion of public events, deploring the fact that in England our best writers, as a rule, hold themselves aloof from journalistic work. He regretted the decline of the fighting spirit in journalism and commended those pressmen who still had the courage to strike with the ungloved fist at public abuses and political shams. Comparing the new and the old journalism, he thought that the one great change which had taken place was to be seen in the fact that the old pomposity had gone and given place to snippety brevity. This led him to a consideration of the Americanisation of the modern English newspaper, and the point was taken up by subsequent speakers – by Mr A. G. Gardner, the Editor of the Daily News, by Mr Keighley Snowden, and Friars Whiteing. Lee Campbell, Robert Donald, Aaron Watson, and J. A. Hammerton – most of whom were unsparing in their criticisms of the modern halfpenny morning newspaper.