By Any Means: The LATimes and Kurdish Coverage

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN

In this third of what started as a three part series on LATimes coverage of interest to Armenians, I’ll address some Kurdish-topic patterns I noticed over the past two-plus years.

Arguably, the Kurds have fared best among the peoples of Armenia’s neighbors.  Certainly, they had more coverage, at least in terms of number of pieces, than anyone else, other than possibly Iran (I have not tracked the latter).  But, those pieces overwhelmingly involved conflict.  Whether it was Turkey attacking the PKK, the PKK responding, the ramifications of these in Iraq and southern Kurdistan, or the political growth pains of the federal structure in Iraq as it impacts the Kurds— coverage stemmed from blood or fierce politics.  Even those stories not directly involving Iraq-Kurd and Turkey-PKK issues were conflictual, e.g. Kurdish protests or persecution in Turkey, Kurds denying responsibility for a bombing, and murders attributed to a “tribal vendetta” in Kurd-inhabited parts of Turkey.

Plus, the one editorial regarding Turkish-PKK interactions favored Turkey. There is no coverage of Turkey’s abuses of Kurds’ human rights, no “picture” of daily life in Turkish occupied Armenia and Kurdistan.  There is the occasional piece about or reference to (in coverage not specifically about the Kurds) “look at the progress in northern Iraq”.  Basically, the paper seems to be toeing the State Department’s line.    No one would call the LATimes pro-Kurdish.

These establishment-based and “if it bleeds it leads” biases do a disservice to readers.  For Armenians, it is, I suppose better than nothing that some trickle of information about our “cousins” intrudes upon our awareness to supplement what the Armenian media provides.  But this pathetic coverage of the largest stateless nation on the planet leads to perpetual uninformedness of Kurdish reality among U.S. citizens (as I have no doubt other major newspapers are similarly deficient), in turn leading to less than optimal Kurdish policy in the State Department.

The Kurdish Question, like the Armenian, is key to peace in the Middle East.  Palestine-Israel may be the hottest issue, but its resolution will not usher in the hoped for peace in the area.  If anything, with that gone, the opportunities for mischief through the abuse of Kurds’ and Armenians’ fundamental rights and manipulation by some powers of their liberation movements, will expand.

It behooves us, as we develop and implement a media strategy, to include the Kurdish perspective on our shared homeland.

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