Mr Ian Boyne brought an open mind, not an open mouth, to the debate

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

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The face and voice of journalist extraordinaire Mr Ian Boyne are etched in the minds of every adult Jamaican alive, not because they have seen and heard him for nearly four decades, but for the brand of journalism he practised consistently and with great panache.

Mr Boyne was undoubtedly one of the last of the remaining journalist-scholars. He had a perpetual inclination to teach through his commentaries spanning various media platforms, which as a nation we enjoyed up to the time of his recent illness and untimely death yesterday morning.

Given to reading and research, he was at any moment's notice ready to bring facts and figures to debate and discussion that often silenced the opposing view. It was that, above all else, that set him apart from many of his colleagues who had a tendency to approach any topic with, not an open mind, but an open mouth.

We'll not deify Mr Boyne. He was by no means someone who could be accused of modesty, or even false modesty. He had a large appetite for praise of his work. But the remarkable thing is that he made sure his work was easy to praise and worthy of remark.

At the same time, he was never shy about lavishing encomiums on colleagues whose work he regarded as excellent and of standout quality. A commendation from Mr Boyne to a young journalist meant way more than his/her month's salary, pitiable as that sum frequently was.

In Mr Ian Boyne journalists found an example of the consummate practitioner whose passion for the art drove him to write a weekly newspaper column and host radio and television shows all at the same time, while making himself available to the talk shows at short notice on a wide range of issues —from dancehall to dialectical materialism, with religion thrown into the mix.

He was also among a handful of journalists who, while holding down a key State media position, could work in the private independent media and transcend the inherent conflicts, avoiding the censorious hand of the jealous politician.

His great speech-writing skill served across different political administrations, becoming, perhaps, the crucible in which he learnt to avoid partisan politics, while holding and expressing strong political views. That, we contend, is nothing short of miraculous in our brutally tribal political environment.

As a newspaper, we found his writings remarkable for the easy manner in which he could cut through the rubble of intellectualism and reduce complex thought to consumable understanding with an unusual degree of finesse.

Mr Boyne understood what that meant to the true newspapermen and women, and he demonstrated this by regularly quoting John Sheffield, the first Duke of Buckingham and Normanby — a quote sometimes attributed to the French poet Andre Breton: “Of all those arts in which the wise excel, Nature's chief masterpiece is writing well.”

He was, to a fault, a private individual, a contradiction no doubt, given his 30 years of Profile telling the unknown stories of a great many Jamaicans who rose sometimes from squalor to magical heights.

But then just as well, it is Mr Ian Boyne's body of work that men will have to judge him by. And that speaks volumes of the man.




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