L.A. WEEKLY APOLOGY TO ARMENIAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY

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L.A. WEEKLY APOLOGY TO ARMENIAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY


LOS ANGELES, April 13 (Noyan Tapan). An Armenian Assembly of America (AAA)-led community meeting on March 17 with editors of the L.A. Weekly newspaper resulted in the paper's second apology to the Armenian-American community for insensitive remarks it published in February, the AAA reported.

Assembly Western Office Director Lena Kaimian, together with Armenian Observer Editor Osheen Keshishian, United Armenia Fund President and California Courier publisher Harut Sassounian and Rev. Father Asbed Balian representing Archbishop Hovnan Derderian of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church, told L.A. Weekly editors that their initial apology to the community for printing "No Armenians Allowed," under an event listing in its calendar section, was not satisfactory.

Following the meeting, the newspaper sent Kaimian the following letter indicating that a second apology was published in the paper addressing the concerns of the Armenian-American community:

"Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with us on March 17. We really valued the opportunity to meet with you and Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Harut Sassounian and Osheen Keshishian. After the meeting, we all came away with a deeper understanding of the effect that the insensitive commentary in the Concerts section of the February 20 issue had upon the Armenian community. We also came to know that the community was not satisfied by our initial apology for the remark, which ran on the letters page in the February 27-March 4 issue.

Since our meeting we received four letters from Armenians expressing their concern over that carelessly written sentence. In response, we have run another apology in the paper specifically directed to address the concerns of the Armenian community. We note that while we encourage provocative language here at L.A. Weekly in the context of useful political debate, the particular words that appeared had no political context and, as one letter writer put it, there was "absolutely no comedy" in what was written. Thus, we cannot defend the statement. If those particular words had gone through our usual editing process, it is highly unlikely that the phrase would have appeared in print. That does not excuse the remark - our Calendar editor was on vacation, but we should have made sure that her replacement was not put into the position of essentially editing her own words.

Those who have been hurt by the statement should know that the writer, who has a long history of good service at the paper, did not set out to offend Armenians or any other group of people. She is horrified that anyone would take the phase "No Armenians allowed" seriously. Fortunately, we live in a place where it is unthinkable that anyone would try to ban any ethnic group from a public event. But given the still-fresh memories of the Armenian genocide and acts of discrimination, we understand the pain our words have caused and would like to apologize again to all who were hurt by what was written. We recognize the importance of the culturally vibrant and successful Armenian community, and look forward to more positive relations in the future.

We would also like to assert, for the record, that no one affiliated with the concert was responsible in any way for the divisive language inserted into the listing.

Since its founding, L.A. Weekly has attempted to educate its readers about Los Angeles' diverse communities. We remain committed to that goal, and appreciate your efforts to promote cultural harmony in our city. We wish you the best in that important endeavor and are truly sorry for this incident".


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