Meet the Weekly’s New Editorial Line-Up

The Weekly is excited to announce the addition of Leeza Arakelian, formerly of Al Jazeera America, to its team.

Left: Leeza Arakelian, Assistant Editor; Right: Karine Vann, Editor

WATERTOWN, Mass.—The Armenian Weekly is pleased to announce the newest addition to its staff. Leeza Arakelian is a seasoned journalist, who has written and produced for local and network television news including Boston 25 and Al Jazeera America in Washington, D.C. A Los Angeles native and a graduate of UCLA, Arakelian moved to New England in 2010 to pursue a master’s in broadcast journalism at Emerson College. She has covered topics ranging from genocide recognition to autism.

Arakelian will be joining the Weekly as assistant editor, replacing Karine Vann, who assumed the role of editor in the months following the departure of Rupen Janbazian.

“As a journalist, I am incredibly humbled and grateful to join this long-standing, trusted institution in the Armenian community,” said Arakelian, who will be taking her sixth sense for glaring typos and transitioning from bustling camera-filled newsrooms to the storied archives of the Hairenik building. “I’m in a special place. I feel it every morning when I greet my colleagues with pari luys.”

Arakelian will be working with the editorial team to elevate the Weekly’s digital platforms with her multimedia background. In particular, she will focus on restarting the The Armenian Weekly Podcast, a new series launched in May that features interviews and insightful commentary from some of the community’s most influential voices.

Editors and assistant editors come to the paper with different experiences and approaches, which tap into the different needs of
the community at different times. It’s something amazingly organic,
which makes this paper truly unique.

“My hope is that I can serve as a compelling storyteller for the Weekly’s engaged readership and perpetuate its mission in delivering high-quality news coverage for the Diaspora.” Arakelian also wants to innovate. “Back in grad school, we learned how to execute a story as a one-man band. I’d love to hit the ground running in that capacity again. Every Armenian has something to say. I want to capture these stories on-camera from our schools, our churches, our homes, our kitchens, and our welcoming events.”

“The beauty of working in a newsroom like the Weekly’s is its scale,” said Vann, commenting on both her and Arakelian’s recent appointments, “As a small, community operation, the presence of just one additional team member is strongly felt. Editors and assistant editors come to the paper with different experiences and approaches, which tap into the different needs of the community at different times. It’s something amazingly organic, which makes this paper truly unique. I’m looking forward to building on Leeza’s strong foundations in the multimedia realm, and am very eager to see how the paper continues to develop as a trusted journalistic resource.”

George Aghjayan, chairman of the Central Committee for the Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s Eastern Region, who also serves on the editorial board at the Weekly, commented that he is looking forward to “keeping the quality high and moving the newspapers forward in this new millennium. We’re slowly, but surely building a sustainable future for the paper, all the while continuing to look for additional contributors and staff that will bring innovation, professionalism, and fresh, progressive perspectives.”

The Weekly is unique in its strong track record of staffing women in leadership positions. This will be the second time in the newspaper’s recorded* history that the editorial team is made up solely of women. After the tenure of editor Jason Sohigian in 2004, the newspaper’s staff consisted of Jenny Yettem (Editor-in-Chief), Nayiri Arzoumanian, Sossi Nevart Essajanian, and Anny Deirmenjian Deese.

Leeza lives in Sudbury, Massachusetts with her husband Sebouh, their son Alik, and dog Penny. If you have a story idea, please email her at [email protected]. You can also follow her reporting on Twitter (@LeezaYeretzian).

 

*Editor’s Note 09/24/2018: The first version of this article indicated that this was the first all-female led editorial team in the newspaper’s history. This information was later found to be factually incorrect, and has since been rectified. Documenting our own history in the annals of community journalism is an ongoing process, often one that happens by word of mouth, and we are grateful for readers’ understanding as we fill in the gaps in our own knowledge. To report an error in our pages, you can write to us at [email protected] 

3 Comments

  1. Working at the Hairenik is one of the most rewarding and worthwhile experiences one can ever live; it is also one of the most humbling, when you begin to read about the giants that were at the helm of our historic publications. Names such as Vratsian, Siamanto, and Darbinian were confined to my Armenian history books before I began my tenure at the Hairenik. And though I never had the time to reflect and think about the significance of “bearing their torch,” I now realize the significance of carrying on the legacy of the now more than century-old publication.
    Growing up, I don’t remember learning about many women in my Armenian history classes. Unfortunately, they were largely ignored and overlooked—marginalized even—in our history books (which detailed the lives of Vratsian, Siamanto, etc.), leaving us with a national narrative that was dominated by males. It was only after I started working at the Weekly that I realized that women have always been instrumental in the Hairenik publications, and in turn, an essential part of the history of Armenian journalism.
    In fact, the Hairenik never shied away from employing women in leadership positions. Even in its earliest days, the Hairenik went against the grain and defied the gender norms of the day. Without the selfless and committed work of staff members and editors such as Queenie Pamboukian, Laura Tosoonian, Mimi Parseghian, Georgi-Ann Bargamian, Nora Mouradian, Grace Kehetian, Arsineh Valladian, Jenny Yettem, Nayiri Arzoumanian, Sossi Essajanian, Anny Deese, and Nanore Barsoumian (I’m sure I’m forgetting some), the Hairenik and the Armenian Weekly would not exist—plain and simple.
    Now, nearly 120 years after the Hairenik was founded, how fitting that the Weekly’s “torch” is being carried by two strong, dedicated, intelligent, and talented Armenian women.
    Karine and Leeza,
    You two are the latest pieces of this great legacy.
    I am so honored and grateful that you have succeeded me and am certain that you will take the newspaper to new heights and (in the words of M. Varadian) “make it better than it was.”

    – Rupen J.

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