TIME Apologizes for Offending Armenians
|TIME Apologizes for Offending Armenians 8/09/2005|
Threatened by Legal Action, TIME Apologizes for Offending Armenians
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
Six weeks ago, the Switzerland-Armenia Association (SAA) sent a letter of protest to TIME magazine expressing its "shock and disappointment" that TIME included in its European Edition (June 6, 2005 issue), as a paid ad, a Turkish DVD that denied the Armenian Genocide.
As the denial of the Armenian Genocide is a criminal offense under Swiss laws, the SAA threatened TIME with legal action, unless the magazine took nine corrective steps ranging from publishing a formal apology to disseminating, at TIME’s expense, a factual DVD on the Armenian Genocide, in the same seven languages as the Turkish DVD.
James Kelly, the Managing Editor of TIME, responded last week to SAA’s letter by stating: "We regret distributing the [Turkish] DVD as part of TIME’s European edition and are very sorry for the offense it has caused. The so-called ‘documentary’ portion of the DVD presents a one- sided view of history that does not meet our standards for fairness and accuracy, and we would not have distributed it had we been aware of its content. Unfortunately the DVD was not adequately reviewed by anyone at TIME because it was believed to be a benign promotion piece. I can assure you that we have changed our review process and will be much more vigilant in the future. We apologize to the Armenian community, and to our readers."
This is a fine letter that makes several very important points:
-- It expresses regret three times in the space of a few short lines;
-- It challenges the credibility of the Turkish DVD by referring to it as a "so-called ‘documentary’" that is "one-sided" and not meeting TIME’s "standards for fairness and accuracy";
-- It acknowledges that TIME would not have distributed the Turkish DVD had it been "aware of its content";
-- It accepts TIME’s negligence by admitting that the DVD "was not adequately reviewed by anyone at TIME";
-- It pledges to be "much more vigilant," should the Turks attempt a similar ploy in the future.
Clearly, this letter is an improvement over TIME’s initial wholly inadequate reaction to Armenian complaints. James Geary, the editor of
TIME Europe, had callously responded that the magazine was "not endorsing any political organization or cause." Mr. Kelly’s letter, on the other hand, reinforces the e-mail Norman Pearlstine, the Editor-in-Chief of TIME, sent to a reader admitting that the contents of the DVD were "different from what we had been led to believe." In other words, Mr. Pearlstine acknowledged that TIME was tricked by the Turks.
Despite Mr. Kelly’s more understanding letter that included profuse apologies, the most critical element is still missing from his response to the Switzerland-Armenia Association. He expresses regret for TIME’s dissemination of the offensive DVD; acknowledges that the Turkish DVD was one-sided, unfair and inaccurate; admits that the magazine was negligent in not reviewing the DVD; and accepts that the DVD should not have been distributed by TIME.
Acknowledging its error and apologizing for it does not, however, go far enough in redressing the harm done to the psyche of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide. The Turkish DVD also tarnished the memory of the Armenian martyrs by casting doubt on the truthfulness of their agonizing eyewitness accounts.
Mr. Kelly and his superiors at TIME now have an obligation to undo the damage they have caused by their negligence. They need to take the nine steps suggested by the SAA. The least TIME could do is agree to disseminate free of charge, to the same 500,000 readers that received the Turkish DVD, a new DVD that accurately portrays the facts of the Armenian Genocide. Otherwise, TIME’s admission of mistakes and expression of regrets remain simply empty words devoid of any meaning and sincerity. It is too easy for TIME executives to pocket the one million dollars for circulating the Turkish hit piece and then simply tell the Armenians, "we apologize." A true apology has to be accompanied by concrete steps that include making amends to the aggrieved party -- the Armenians.
Until then, Armenians worldwide should continue their boycott of TIME magazine and resort to all possible legal measures accorded to them under European genocide denial laws to seek adequate redress. Kind words alone do not compensate for the damage caused by TIME’s negligent, insensitive and offensive act.