Major Newspapers in US & Canada Acknowledge the Armenian Genocide

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Major Newspapers in US & Canada Acknowledge the Armenian Genocide

By Harut Sassounian

Publisher, The California Courier

Dec. 1, 2005

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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