How Many Times Los Angeles Times?

Even though I am getting tired of requesting the same correction from the Los Angeles Times every few months, the newspaper’s reporters do not seem to get tired of making the same mistake!

Readers can probably guess by now that I am talking about another improper reference to the Armenian Genocide in the Times. This time, reporter Agustin Gurza is the culprit.

In the newspaper’s Calendar Section of August 9, Mr. Gurza wrote a lengthy front-page feature article about the U.S. debut of the Armenian Navy Band–a 12-piece folk-fusion ensemble from Armenia–at the prestigious Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

I was surprised and annoyed to read in that article, the following mischaracterization of the Armenian Genocide: "Armenia’s carry in their collective DNA the memory of what they consider a genocide by the Turks in the early 20th century." Mr. Gurza should have known that the Armenian Genocide is universally acknowledged, except for Turkish denialists and their paid cohorts. The reporter’s faulty statement also violates the Times’ editorial policy on the Armenian Genocide.

Unfortunately, this is not the first such mistake by a Times’ reporter; nor it would be the last. In recent years, this newspaper has published countless corrections on this issue. Over a year ago, there was a major confrontation between the Armenian community and Times’ editors, when Managing Editor Douglas Frantz blocked the publication of an article on the Armenian Genocide written by reporter Mark Arax. The controversy was settled when Times’ Publisher David Hiller reassured the community that no further deviation from the newspaper’s established policy on the Armenian Genocide would be tolerated. Mr. Frantz is no longer employed at the Times.

Six months later, reporter Richard Simon, in his October 3, 2007 article, once again mischaracterized the Armenian Genocide. Two days after I complained to Mr. Hiller, the Times printed the following correction: "Armenian genocide: An article in Wednesday’s Section A about a bill to recognize the killing of Armenia’s by Ottoman Turks as genocide said, ‘Armenia’s say that 1.5 million of their people perished as part of a campaign to drive them out of eastern Turkey.’ The statement should not have been attributed solely to Armenia’s; historical evidence and research support the accuracy of the term genocide."

Less than a year after that correction, reporter Gurza repeated the same mistake in his August 9, 2008 article. Assuming that as an entertainment reporter he may not be aware of his newspaper’s policy on the Armenian Genocide, I called him on August 11 to let him know about his possibly inadvertent error. As he was not at his desk, I left a message on his voice mail.

When I did not hear from Mr. Gurza, I contacted directly the editors of the Times. I received a prompt call the next day, saying that the editors had reviewed my complaint, found it justified, and promised to publish an appropriate correction shortly. Indeed, in the August 14 issue of the newspaper, the following correction appeared:

Armenian band: An article in Saturday’s Calendar section about the Armenian Navy Band, making its U.S. debut Friday at Walt Disney Concert Hall, said ‘Armenia’s carry in their collective DNA the memory of what they consider a genocide by the Turks in the early 20th century.’ The statement should not have qualified the term ‘genocide'; historical evidence and research support the accuracy of the term."

This correction is almost identical to the one published almost a year ago. Although some of our readers see a conspiracy behind the newspaper’s repeated improper references to the Armenian Genocide, I disagree. I believe that these errors are simply caused by uninformed or negligent reporters. Since hundreds of journalists work at the Times, and there is a high turnover, it is understandable that new staff members may not be aware of the newspaper’s policy on the Armenian Genocide.

Even though I am getting tired of contacting the Times, asking for yet another correction, let’s look at the bright side. The editors of the Times have always graciously accepted my complaint and promptly published the requested correction.

Furthermore, each time that the Times makes such a mistake, it creates yet another opportunity for the newspaper to reconfirm the facts of the Armenian Genocide and remind both current and newly hired staff of its time-honored policy on this issue.


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