AAA Media Alert: LA Weekly Issues Second Apology

Armenian Assembly of America
122 C Street, NW, Suite 350
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202-393-3434
Fax: 202-638-4904
Email: [email protected]
April 12, 2004
CONTACT: Christine Kojoian
E-mail: [email protected]

RE: L.A. Weekly apology to Armenian-American community

An Armenian Assembly-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

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.

The Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide
organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian
issues. It is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.

March 31, 2004

Lena Kaimian
Director, Western Office
Armenian Assembly of America
50 N. La Cienega Blvd., Suite 202
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Dear Ms. Kaimian,

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


Laurie Ochoa
Editor, L.A. Weekly