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      Newspapers in US & Canada Acknowledge the Genocide

Newspapers in US & Canada Acknowledge the Genocide   1/12/2005

Major Newspapers in US & Canada Acknowledge the Armenian Genocide

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

In a couple of recent articles, the Los Angeles Times referred to the
Armenian Genocide as the “alleged slaying of Armenians” (Sept. 1, 2005)
resulting in “hundreds of thousands of Armenians killed during the era of
the Ottoman Empire,” (Sept. 8, 2005). In response to complaints from
readers, the L.A. Times acknowledged its error in using the word “alleged”
and published a correction on Sept. 11.

During discussions with the staff of the L.A. Times on that occasion, it was
revealed that these articles had deviated from the newspaper’s written
policy on the Armenian Genocide. To reinforce their existing guidelines, the
newspaper’s editors sent a memo to all editors and writers, to ensure that
they complied fully with its policy on this issue.

The memo stated that all articles appearing in the L.A. Times on this
subject should reflect the fact that the Armenian Genocide, during and after
World War I, is a historical fact, and that the word “genocide” should be
used without qualification. The newsroom guidelines also noted that such
articles should mention the official stance of the Turkish government as
disputing this fact. The L.A. Times thus joins the rank of countless other
newspapers around the world that have rejected the denialist position of the
Turkish government on the Armenian Genocide.

Readers may recall that the New York Times adopted a similar guideline last
year. Its internal memo stated: “After careful study of scholarly
definitions of ‘genocide,’ we have decided to accept the term in references
to the Turks’ mass destruction of Armenians in and around 1915.” The memo
also stated: “the expression ‘Armenian genocide’ may be used freely and
should not be qualified with phrasing like ‘what Armenians call,’ etc.” The
editors urged their reporters to explain in their articles that “by most
historical accounts, the Ottoman Empire killed more than one million
Armenians in a campaign of death and mass deportation aimed at eliminating
the Armenian population throughout what is now Turkey.” After this policy
was issued, the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA) carried out
an intensive letter-writing campaign trying unsuccessfully to get the New
York Times to reverse its position on the Armenian Genocide. The New York
Times refused to budge. Furthermore, when Turkish organizations tried to
place a paid denialist ad in the New York Times earlier this year, the
newspaper rejected it, even after the Prime Minister of Turkey, Receb Tayyip
Erdogan, personally met with the editorial board urging them to reconsider
their decision.

Another major U.S. newspaper, the Boston Globe, made a similar change of
policy on the Armenian Genocide two years ago. Michael Larkin, the Deputy
Managing Editor of the Globe, announced on July 8, 2003 that the newspaper
had ended its long-standing policy against the use of the term “genocide”
when referring to the Armenian Genocide. The ATAA embarked yet again on
another unsuccessful letter-writing campaign to reverse the Globe’s
decision.

In Canada, Andrew Phillips, the Editor-in-Chief of the Montreal Gazette sent
a memo to his staff on July 4, 2005, stating that the newspaper would no
longer refer to the Armenian Genocide as the “alleged genocide.” He wrote:
“It seems clear from the historical record that what took place in Turkey
around 1915 amounted to a genocide, as defined in the 1948 UN convention on
genocide: killing or harming people ‘with intent to destroy in whole or in
part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.’ As a result, reporters
and editors are free to use the word genocide, without quotation marks, in
relation to the Armenian tragedy and should avoid using qualifiers such as
‘alleged,’ ‘disputed’ or ‘what Armenians call.’ We may report Turkish
denials of such a claim when they are relevant, but we should not feel
obligated to include such denials with every reference to the Armenian
genocide.”

In recent months, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Ottawa
Citizen, The Guardian and countless other newspapers around the world have
started referring to the Armenian Genocide as such, without any
qualification.

The expanding circle of acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide by the
media, scholars, legislatures and international organizations indicates that
despite their costly and frenzied efforts, the Turkish government, its
lobbyists and hired pens have failed to suppress the truth and convince
others to go along with their lies and distortions.




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