Yegparian: The LA Times and Armenian Coverage

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 LA Times 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 shortcomings 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 its 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 LA Times, 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.

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Garen Yegparian

Asbarez Columnist
Garen Yegparian is a fat, bald guy who has too much to say and do for his own good. So, you know he loves mouthing off weekly about anything he damn well pleases to write about that he can remotely tie in to things Armenian. He's got a checkered past: principal of an Armenian school, project manager on a housing development, ANC-WR Executive Director, AYF Field worker (again on the left coast), Operations Director for a telecom startup, and a City of LA employee most recently (in three different departments so far). Plus, he's got delusions of breaking into electoral politics, meanwhile participating in other aspects of it and making sure to stay in trouble. His is a weekly column that appears originally in Asbarez, but has been republished to the Armenian Weekly for many years.
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3 Comments

  1. Garen,

    What part do you think the impotence of our lobbying groups in local markets comprised of large Armenian populations like LA have to do with the de minimis media coverage of diaspora and Armenian issues.

    Unlike the multitude of Jewish organizations (and I chose them because of the size of their diaspora in LA) that get more than ample coverage of their events and issues of import, the coverage of Armenian Americans in Los Angeles is almost like the man that was not there.

    I opine that a lot of this has to do with ‘dadark’ leadership that do not know who is even on the playing field competing against them and our interests or do not know how to get the attention of media. At some point an angry mob outside of the Turkish embassy loses its ability to compel attention. Now, put that same event outside the Golden Globes where players who support or assist Turkish interests are present or those sympathetic of those players and all of a sudden the disruption of protest becomes compelling.

    FF

  2. Mr. Yegparian,
    While I fully understand the reasoning behind your article and I do believe that the Los Angeles Times should be covering more human interest stories related to the Armenian community,  I believe the notion of Armenian news not being covered is a slight misconception. Here is some evidence that backs it up.
    As early as Feb.13, there are dozens of stories you can find – all it takes is searching. The most recent is about an Armenian rug maker who revels in his craft (http://www.latimes.com/features/home/la-hm-hratch13-2010feb13,0,3498690.story) another from January is about chess player Varuzhan Akobyan (http://www.latimes.com/features/puzzles/chess/la-ca-chess10-2010jan10,0,496774.story). There’s even a short fiction story featuring an Armenian theme:http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-story13-2009dec13,0,4646309.story
    The Glendale News-Press  (part of the Times Community Newspapers) also does its fair share of coverage of the Armenian community, so I think it’s unfair to brand the LA Times as you have.
    In regards to Protocol coverage, I just have a few points to make. I was at the protests here in Los Angeles, not as a protester but as a journalist and wrote an article about the protests which you can find on my online news magazine here:http://www.ianyanmag.com/?p=1313
    While I witnessed the events of the day and saw how many people were there myself, around 3 to 4,000, Armenian media inflated the figure to around 12,00o. As a witness to the event, this information was false. This is not the first time I have come across factual errors and bias reporting in Armenian newspapers. My point in all this is, before we start to point the finger outside, we should take a look within our own media and see problems we can fix. If we demand fair coverage from the Los Angeles  Times, asking coverage of good and bad events, we should demand the same of our own media. Where are the human interest stories about homosexuality, about domestic violence and abuse, about gang violence or corruption in our community? More often then not, they go ignored. Out of sight, out of mind, as they say. This is one of the things I am doing all I can to change with my online site.I believe confronting our problems, instead of sweeping them under the rug is the only road to progress.
    Apologies for going on so long, but as a journalist, I felt compelled to speak out. I enjoyed reading your article.
    -Liana
    ianyan magazine

  3. It’s about time that the Los Angeles Times Newspapers stopped using the word alledged on the well documented Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923 by the Turkish Government.  We thank Garen for working with the Times on this important issue for the Armenian Nation.  People should know why our Genocide has been put aside and that is because the Turkish Government is using five Jewish Organizations to do their dirty work, whom control the State Dept. and tell the President what to do. The worlds people must wake up to the truth of what happened to one of the worlds oldest nations whom lived in the center of Europle & Asia and every conquering power has devastated this powerless people whom has no friends in the world.

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