It was deliberately planted in my youthful head to never trust a liar. ‘Liars are dangerous people; often dishonest crooks!’ And every crook is a potential murderer. These and other ‘messages’ to the youth of my generation were time-tested truths; simple and clear. A further guide was to choose silence over useless speech. Useless talk led to little lies and then to bigger ones to cover the earlier lies. ‘Speech is silver and silence gold.’ Every child knew then that gold was more precious than silver. Unfortunately, in a constantly changing environment and culture such values tend to fall away leaving the young and society poorer.
Today, mass communications using modern electronic devices have exacerbated the use and spread of lies. Paradoxically, liars are on the ascendancy in a world hungry for truthful information. It is such hunger for factual information which allows liars, imposters and crooks to hide behind their anti-social conduct often in plain view. Too often, the innocent watch and listen like sheep without discernment, to that which is often fake information. For this reason the world owes a huge debt of gratitude to journalists who dare to seek truth, bringing it to light. By my reckoning there are only three such journalists – fearless truth seekers – in Saint Lucia.
The one who tops the list and of whom I write is different . . . and special. He sometimes comes across as brash, argumentative and a poor listener – ‘Mr. Know-it-all’. He can be infuriating, frustrating, insulting even. But, to his credit, he does not drink; neither does he smoke or do drugs. He reads and researches, constantly educating himself. He is therefore able to lock onto an important story like the jaws of a pit-bull to its victim. Such tenacity is rare. Yet it is such focused determination, driven purpose and truth-seeking that is needed in journalists in young, struggling democracies such as ours.
One may like him or hate him but he is one ‘pain-in-the-butt’ of a journalist that you neglect at your peril. His combative, argumentative and opinionated dispositions are the qualities which best serve his public. Such qualities are sadly lacking in those for whom the media is merely a source of income. Such job-seekers tend to be more partisan and indisciplined. Wherever the rules of law and freedom are challenged, especially by the people who are supposed to uphold them, a people can count itself lucky to have fearless journalists to turn to for enlightenment, reporting and correctly interpreting a story, regardless of where it leads.
His one weakness may be his humanity which he often tries to hide. He can sometimes be softened even though he often displays a hard exterior and a mean visage. Within his once super-developed Mr. World Body physique lies the gentle heart of a friendly kitten. The man protects his soft heart with brash and deliberate attacking tactics using both pen and voice. But don’t be deceived. That softness can harden into an iron resolution when things are not done properly within the law and when governments and others (e.g. the police) cross the line into illegality and abuse. Reporting and commenting on unsolved heinous crimes such as rape and murder are his passion. He refuses to let the nation forget the violent deaths of its young women at the hands of cowards and criminals.
If anyone doubts the role which the media plays or is supposed to play in the life of a country, one has simply to visit the huge pin-ups at the entrance of the ascending steps to his newspaper office. One slogan shouts in bold six-inch print ‘Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.’ And for this journalist these are not mere words. He lives it! It is one reason he stands apart. There is this other quote: ‘The press is not only free, it is powerful. That power is ours. It is the proudest we can enjoy.’
Since turning to journalism as the bread and butter profession of his choosing, he’s written for and edited a body-building magazine in Los Angeles, graduating to writing books on body-building wars, and later on his second love, politics. Perhaps it is his interest in politics and public life which led him to choose the following quotation pinned on the same wall as mentioned above. I add it for good measure and for its relevance. ‘The press is the best instrument for enlightening the mind of man, and improving him as a rational, moral, social being.’
If one were to examine his professional journalistic life over the past forty years it would be crystal-clear that the man lives by the printed words on the montage to his office. By the way it’s more than a simple office. It is a Publishing House which produces work that can match and surpass the best from the USA and Europe. His wife, whom he has finally started calling that, shares a large part in the output and quality of their joint publishing enterprise. She has been central to its class and professionalism. Surrounded by success, as he is, it must be difficult to bear grudges. Like professional journalists the world over he refuses to become emotionally embroiled in that which he reports. Professional journalists aspire towards objectivity, candour, truthfulness and relevance.
A journalist must also demonstrate independence. An example of the independence and equanimity with which he approaches his task is seen by the ease with which he was able to switch from persistently attacking the first prime minister of the island and later working with him as Press Secretary. His former boss had given him an ultimatum: cease the attacks, or else! His message to the former boss, which he never disclosed, seemed to have been: ‘You can stuff your job where the sun don’t shine. I’ll show you that I hold no animosity and work as press secretary to the Premier.’ His new job as Press Secretary may well have paid more handsomely than the previous one.
Here now is an example of his humanity and his willingness to forgive. A certain politician who had always put him down for lack of formal academics got into a potentially serious matter concerning family. He wished the journalist to help him keep it out of the public domain. He went cap-in-hand to the journalist. The journalist with the gentle heart immediately relented and took his teeth off the meat of the potentially embarrassing matter. The lesson here is that bringing the truth to light, even by the most determined and best, has its limit. In cases where young lives may be compromised, this is crucial. This is not to say that there are no ‘animals’ in journalism who will invent fiction even it means hurting friends, family as well as politicians they loathe.
To deliver truth and factual information one must rise above fake news and disinformation. To rise above lies and pettiness one must learn to demonstrate independence of mind and thought, to dwell above mediocrity. Such independence cannot be bought or compromised. In a society still struggling with poverty, ignorance and political tribalism a journalist needs to rise above deliberate lies, to challenge autocracy and promote and uphold free speech and
truth. Such qualities in a journalist are crucial to a free society.
For this reason we welcome the return of Rick Wayne and his weekly television talk show. We pray that he continues to illuminate the crooked and perverse darkness of this dear land and that he finds the courage to point to a higher ideal and national purpose. May he continue to enjoy sound mental and physical health and may the STAR newspaper and his TALK show continue to point, however subtly, to the one who is the way, the truth and the life.