Last week, the Armenian Weekly published an announcement about its latest editorial staff, and shortly afterwards, we were notified that it contained a factual error, which we would like to take the opportunity to address.
The statement in question was that our current editorial line-up, in which both the editor and assistant editor are women, is the first known occasion in the history of the paper. This, we are pleased to report, is untrue. Our article indicated a long legacy of female editors (whom we did not identify by name, but who include, just to name a few, Georgi-Ann Bargamian, Muriel Parseghian, Jenny Yettem, and most recently, Nanore Barsoumian). But we were unaware that after the tenure of editor Jason Sohigian in 2004, the newspaper was staffed, in roles ranging from design layout to editor-in-chief, entirely by women (Jenny Yettem, Nayiri Arzoumanian, Sossi Nevart Essajanian, and Anny Deirmenjian Deese).
Of course, before publishing, we researched our archives to confirm our observation, but unfortunately, outside of the Hairenik 100th anniversary book (released in 1999 on the centennial of our Armenian language counterpart), the history of this publication has not always been well-documented. In fact, documenting the history of our publication within the annals of community journalism is an ongoing process—one that, more often than not, happens by word of mouth (ironic for a print publication)—and we are grateful for readers’ understanding as we fill in the gaps in our own knowledge.
But on this note, we also see this new information as a unique opportunity to start filling in some important blanks, and hope this glaring shortcoming in our announcement will lend to a larger and even more important conversation about the absence of women in professional newsrooms and the need to invite and cultivate these voices and their stories, more often.
After all, how is it that more women are enrolled in journalism schools (more than two-thirds of journalism graduates are women) but only a select few end up having by-lines and time on-air (media industry is one-third women)?
Of course, an apology is in order to the women who came before us; we should have exhausted all of our resources before making such a claim. But every cloud has a silver lining, and this one’s is being re-introduced to the idea that The Armenian Weekly has been, for many years now, a beacon of progress, staffing women in leadership positions for nearly half a century now. On so many fronts, this newspaper is a veritable black sheep.
But we still have work to do. This history still warrants further investigation. And furthermore, simply including women in the process isn’t enough; our hope in the future is to be more proactive about covering topics like children’s education and parenting/mothering, in ways that give them the attention they deserve. These are issues that have a tendency to get sidelined because they traditionally speaking, they have often been seen as relevant primarily to women.
That said, we salute all the women—and also, importantly, men—who have contributed to the legacy that is The Armenian and Hairenik Weekly newspapers. Because at the end of the day, the hope is that we will one day live in a world in which these distinctions won’t even warrant our attention, so commonplace will they be.