BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
We were all pleased when the LA Times finally left the dark side by terminating its use of the word “alleged” every time it referred to the Genocide. We were also pleased when the paper dumped Douglas Frantz, a clearly biased, Turkophilic former editor. But is that it? Is that all we want from the preeminent newspaper serving the region with the second largest Armenian population outside of Armenia?
The LATimes covers our Christmas celebrations every January, but that’s about it for coverage of local issues of Armenian interest. Occasionally, Homenetmen’s Navasartian Games will elicit coverage. I suppose thousands of people, largely kids, getting together constructively don’t merit interest more than about once every half-a-dozen years. Part of this is our fault. Communities smaller than ours get more visibility. Why shouldn’t we be pushing more human interest stories? Vartivar anyone? Wetting each other sanctioned by one of the oldest churches around sure seems like an interesting story angle, not to mention its origins back in pagan times. How about our political activities? Or the social services and support our organizations provide? We have to reach out to the media more.
But our shotcomings aren’t the whole story. The March 1, 2008 tragedy got coverage, as did the scheme run by Armenian consular officials in LA to enable some immigrants from Armenia to remain in the U.S. illegally. Where is the “good news” coverage of Armenia? I’m not even sure now, but I think the Times covered the Armenia Fund Telethon all of once. Forget about reporting what the money collected has achieved!
Finally, while the ill-begotten soccer diplomacy and it’s even more illegitimate offspring, the Protocols, were front and center, the coverage has been skewed to toe establishment/state department/pro-Turkey positions. A somewhat poor light was cast upon the Armenian side in reporting on demonstrations when Turkey’s president, Gul, went to Armenia in the summer of 2008. An October 4, 2009 news piece about protests against the protocols claiming that “both sides” opposed these documents leaves the impression that “Armenians oppose” them. Just two weeks ago “The truce in need of a rescue” sang the praises of the “opportunity” presented by the protocols. All of this had been preceded by Hugh Pope’s “Soccer-match diplomacy” from September 16, 2008. You don’t have to imagine how this Turkophile’s commentary read. To be fair, he attempts to palliate his pro-Turkey bent, but ultimately, he is true to his Turkish friends.
Clearly we have a lot to do on the media front in general, and the LATimes, in particular. Our previous successes (with the Times itself, or more recently with KFI and the inappropriate “joke” about the Genocide) indicate that we can and know how to proceed. This is an important arena, though not the only one, where ideas and mindsets are formed. Let’s get our advocacy organizations on this. I suspect other major newspapers need the same kind of attention from us, too. All our communities have their work cut out for them.