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Jamaicans Mourn the Passing of a Media Icon Who Celebrated Achievement in the Face of Adversity

Screenshot taken from a YouTube video of the popular television show ‘Profile’, showing the host, veteran journalist Ian Boyne.

December 18, 2017 was a bright Monday morning, but the mood in Jamaica — among media practitioners in particular — was somber, after news broke that veteran journalist Ian Boyne had passed away at the University of the West Indies Hospital having suffered a heart attack.

At the time of his death, Boyne was deputy chief executive officer at the government-owned Jamaica Information Service (JIS) and a columnist at Jamaica's top-selling Sunday Gleaner. He was best known for his Sunday afternoon interview programme on Television Jamaica, “Profile”. He also hosted a show called “Religious Hard Talk”, in which “men of the cloth” fired verbal slingshots at each other across the table, with Boyne the eager referee in many heated debates.

Boyne never shied away from a war of words. One journalist recalled his battles with a fellow columnist:

Gordon Robinson (@TheTerribleTout) versus Ian Boyne. Reason to grab the #SundayGleaner. #BooklistBoyne. Don't think Boyne never used to respond in the subtlest of ways. And it's just so that Robinson would fire back. #RIPIanBoyne

The general manager of Television Jamaica remembered the first airing of “Profile” and its first interviewee, a prominent businessman. The show gradually evolved to focus on Jamaicans who had excelled in their field despite obstacles.

Boyne himself came from a fairly humble background, going to school in the Pembroke Hall area of Kingston. Like another influential journalist, Wilmot “Mutty” Perkins, he was not college-educated — but unlike the acerbic, anti-establishment “Mutty”, Boyne soon became a member of that establishment at JIS. In 2009, Boyne was recognised for his contribution to journalism with the award of the nation’s fifth highest honour, the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander.

Upon his passing, there was an outpouring of shock and sadness on social media, especially from his colleagues. Notably, many younger journalists described how much Boyne had influenced them. Two television journalists compared notes:

They shared memories and video clips of weekly, pre-programme conversations in the makeup room:

A young broadcast journalist tweeted:

Commentator Clyde Williams also paid tribute:

Champion sprinter Usain Bolt expressed sadness, posting a photograph of himself being interviewed by Boyne:

Another Olympic champion, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, pointed to her upcoming autobiography — a collaboration with Boyne — as she expressed her condolences on Facebook.

One past interviewee shared a series of heartfelt tweets:

Political leaders past and present weighed in almost immediately. Many knew Boyne well from his work at the government information service. Prime Minister Andrew Holness described Boyne as “the consummate communicator” whose work ” represents the power of good journalism”.

The Governor General added, in a rare tweet:

Young politician Floyd Green summed up the feelings of Jamaicans of his generation:

Naturally, Boyne also had his critics, but the criticism came mostly in the form of humorous digs — in particular at his interviewing techniques:

Another parodied Boyne's style, imagining a Christmas interview with Jesus:

Boyne himself never lost his sense of humour. Journalist Rodney Campbell, who had posted a hilarious spoof of the “Profile” show a few months earlier, tweeted:

One regular tweeter summed up the essence of ‘Profile’ very well:

Another well-known media personality and chair of the RJR/Gleaner group, J. Lester Spaulding, died on November 17, 2017 — Rodney Campbell humourously imagined Boyne interviewing Spaulding up in heaven:

One thing is clear: Ian Boyne will be missed, not only as a one-of-a-kind journalist, but also as a warm-hearted and empowering Jamaican.

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