Advice to an Aspiring Armenian-American Journalist
Advice to an Aspiring Armenian-American Journalist
In honor of Catholicos Aram I’s designating 2019 “The Year of the Armenian Media.” (1)
By Lucine Kasbarian
As someone who has worked in and with U.S. media for 30 years, I’m concerned about its ability to attract and maintain high-quality journalists, especially Armenian-Americans who have grown skeptical of an industry that frequently publishes misinformation (or no information) regarding Armenian history and current events.
The global Armenian community must replenish the wealth of talent lost during many waves of ethnic cleansings of Armenians. This includes replacing writers both murdered and unborn.
Not every Armenian community has the luxury of organizing a mentoring forum (2) for youth, though a handful do this admirably. (3)
Many more Armenian-American professional organizations can follow these examples. Established professionals can also inform and encourage young Armenians who wish to enter various fields. Specifically, Armenian organizations and individuals can mentor aspiring writers who will one day inform their audiences about Armenian issues based on these professional standards: facts, credible sources, and the whole truth. Those young writers can then, in turn, mentor succeeding generations.
As a journalist and a lecturer to youth, I often receive queries from students asking how to break into the media industry.
With the writer’s permission, I share below a letter received from a college student. My response follows her letter.
March 20, 2019
I’m a sophomore Critical Theory and Social Justice Major at Occidental College in Los Angeles. I write for The Occidental, our college newspaper.
Attached is an article I wrote about the denial of the Armenian genocide by the U.S. government: (4)
I would love to learn more about your experiences writing in NY. I read that you do school visits, and our Armenian Students Association (I am the co-president) would love to have you as a guest speaker.
I would appreciate hearing from you.
March 21, 2019
Thank you for contacting me and for your thoughtful article in The Occidental. You expressed yourself from the heart and with an Armenian’s insider perspective.
I’m happy that you want to pursue a career in journalism. We need bright Armenian minds to enter this field, especially nowadays when censorship is rampant and free speech is in jeopardy.
What advice would I give to a young woman seeking to become a journalist, especially a young Armenian-American woman who is a product of the Armenian-American Day School system, the co-president of the All-ASA, and a Social Justice Major?
1. Write something every day, whether or not you submit it for publication. (5)
2. Consider supplementing your studies with journalism courses. (6)
3. Maintain good relations with your professors, peers, and university career center. (7)
4. Locate a news site that you like to read (8) and inquire if you can submit an article that dovetails with its editorial focus. If the editors accept, add the published article to your portfolio to show future employers. One news site I admire is Global Research. (9)
5. Read "The Real Fake News is Mainstream Media"(10), and "Truth is the First Casualty of War"(11) about how Western media outlets mishandle Armenian issues.
Many idealistic Armenian-Americans join the mainstream press corps only to discover that if they want to climb the career ladder, they are expected to censor themselves and/or defend misinformed U.S. foreign policies and not just on issues that affect Armenians. Consider submitting articles to or seeking employment with alternative publications rather than mainstream ones. As stated in your article, "What do you do as a United States citizen, living in a country that chooses to deny the past?" One answer may be to deliver our stories through non-mainstream media channels.
6. Write for the Armenian press. Most Armenian community newspapers (12) welcome new writers and some even pay for reportage and “exclusives.” Approach the newly launched H-Pem enterprise, which accepts articles from emerging and seasoned Armenian writers. (13) Encourage Armenian-American organizations to hire writers such as yourself. Many need skilled writers to develop their websites, issue press releases, and reach out to non-Armenian audiences.
7. Apply for a journalism internship with The Armenian Weekly (14), The Armenian Mirror-Spectator (15), the AGBU (16), or Birthright Armenia. (17)
8. Follow media outlets you trust to analyze how they cover the news. Choose from among these outlets when applying for a job and show that you know their content.
9. Subscribe to blogs (18) that offer media tips (19) and job leads. (20) These websites (21) have more resources. (22)
10. Read Ben Bagdikian's "The [New] Media Monopoly" (23) and Ed Herman's/Noam Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent." (24) Both illustrate how mainstream journalism has often become a business and propaganda tool rather than an institution representing free inquiry.
11. Lastly, work your way up. In 2009, Armenian-American student Alene Tchekmedyian became the editor-in-chief of The Daily Bruin college newspaper while she attended UCLA. (25)
She then interned at The Armenian Reporter newspaper (no longer published). Today, Alene is a reporter for The Los Angeles Times. (26)