It was exactly 90 years ago Friday–to the day–that this publication was born in the burgeoning Armenian community of Fresno with the aim of creating an arena–asbarez–for the members of the community and the only means through which Armenia’s living in the Western US could learn about the events of the homeland and Armenia’s elsewhere in the world.
While nine decades have passed since Asbarez first went to press–the fundamentals have not changed. Asbarez is still an arena for the community to address issues of importance to the Armenian-American community and medium through which the community stays abreast of the ongoing changes in the homeland.
It would be tedious to list the events which Asbarez has covered throughout the years–since it has mirrored the Armenian reality. Nevertheless–Asbarez could be deemed one of the most important first-person historical sources documenting the Genocide–the Armenian independence movement–the rise of Communism and its subsequent demise–the Karabakh liberation struggle–the re-emergence of independence with its often acrimonious events–and finally the second chance the Armenian people have at state-building and uniting of national forces.
When Asbarez went to press for the first time 90 years ago–the Diaspora was still in its infant stages and the concept of it becoming a national reality and a national beneficial force was not yet attainable. Yet the need to establish a publication which would bridge the dispersed population with others and the homeland was evident. Today–Asbarez is the most widely circulated and read daily Armenian newspaper in the world–catering to the needs of the community both as a news and information medium and as a means through which the community communicates.
Its task to shape opinions and provide insight into issues has also remained untainted. As the official publication of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western US Central Committee–Asbarez has been the voice of justice–speaking out against efforts to breech the just aspirations of the Armenian people–be they in the homeland or elsewhere.
Its role to educate the community and guide its members toward pursuing the Armenian Cause through an organized and united fashion has also been one of the most important elemen’s of this publication–which has been the torchbearer for activism and communicating the obstacles facing the Armenian people. It offered guidance for urgent action on varying issues such as Congressional resolutions on the recognition of Genocide–US aid to Armenia–support for the self-determination of Nagorno-Karabakh–gathering of volunteer forces for the 1918 independence movement and the building Genocide monumen’s. Most importantly–however–Asbarez has armed the Armenian people in the fight against revisionism and forces which have aimed–and continue to aspire–to destroy the very fabric of Armenian existence.
Asbarez has also been on the forefront of technology. From linotype to computers–from the telegraph to the internet–Asbarez has been quick to equip itself with technological advents–not to boast–but to ensure and expedite the flow of information to the community and the world.
Today–the Asbarez employs more than 30 staff members–reporters–contributors and editors who–on a daily basis–bring the world to the Armenian community–sometimes at a touch of a button or a click of a mouse. Furthermore–it would not be fair to discuss the enormous impact of this publication without mentioning Asbarez’s broadcast wing–Horizon television which has grown–like the community–to become a nightly newscast and newsmagazine–entering people’s livingrooms and providing an arena to the community at large.
Today–the Asbarez circulates in the halls of Congress–in numerous state capitols–in academic institutions–the White House and the United Nations–not only as a complimentary mailer or a public relations tool–but rather as a source of information to the policy makers of this country. Today–Asbarez is readily available on the world wide web and–in just a short time–has become the largest Armenian online news dissemination service.
The key to success has been the commitment to the aspirations of the Armenian people and the Armenian nation. In 90 years–the Asbarez has not veered from that commitment–but rather–it has embellished it–improved it and articulated it.
So–as we prepare to mark a century of service to the community–a special mention must be made about our readers–advertisers and supporters–without whom the Asbarez would just be words on paper.
Happy 90th Asbarez–and may the arena which was opened on Friday–August 14–1908 expand and grow–to include the entire Armenian nation.