Remembering Les Payne — FAKE NEWS, Tweets, and Ftweets*

In this moment of “FAKE NEWS,” often decried by its most ardent propagater-in-chief, it is worth nothing what recently deceased Les Payne, Black Journalist Extraordinare, gave as advice to young reporters: “Journalism begins when somone says no.”  Most importantly, the purpose of journalism is to hold power accountable.

The Founding Fathers, flaws and all, got one thing right: a nation should have a Free Press. This is why the Press is considered the Fourth Estate, an additional check and  balance — a watch dog of sorts — on the three branches of government, which is sometimes a three-headed monster, mostly when one party is in control of the Executive Office, the Senate, and the House of Representatives.

My writing is rooted in journalism, when I first identified FAKE NEWS, in 1976 — a friend committed a crime, of which I knew details, and reading the news about the crime, I knew that it was…fake.  At 16, I then began to write to find my voice, and to tell the truth as I saw it as a Black man-child.  I intutively knew what Mr. Payne knew, and what was noted in the Kerner Commission report, that newspapers and TV news failed to report clearly on Black life, and employed very few Black people to better shape and inform reporting, which was, and  to a great extent still is, reporting from “white men’s eyes and white [men’s] perspective[s].”  (And it matters not if a Black talking head is espousing this, if it is from those white eyes and white perspective, and it is not being informed by Black eyes and a Black perspective.)

Finally, in an editorial about Les Payne in amNewYork, 3/28/18, “A journalist who spoke truth to power,”  it is noted that “Payne believed society would be better if journalists helped it know better.  It’s a lesson to remember.”


*”Ftweets” I define as Fake Tweets, another form of FAKE NEWS, mostly from the FAKE NEWS propagater-in-chief, and his merry band of people who do not tell the truth.


About William Eric Waters, aka Easy Waters

Award-winning poet, playwright and writer. Author of three books of poetry, "Black Shadows and Through the White Looking Glass: Remembrance of Things Past and Present"; "Sometimes Blue Knights Wear Black Hats"; "The Black Feminine Mystique," and a novel, "Streets of Rage." All four books are available on
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