ANCA: New York Times Reverses Policy on Armenian Genocide

Armenian National Committee of New York
PO Box 693
Woodside, NY 11377
[email protected]

April 17, 2004

Contact: Tony Vartanian
[email protected]


— ANCA Welcomes Historic Move by Newspaper to Properly
Characterize Armenian Genocide

WOODSIDE, NY – In a move aimed at reaffirming its past record on
the first genocide of the 20th Century, the New York Times has
lifted its long-standing policy against the use of the term
“Armenian Genocide,” reported the Armenian National Committee (ANC)
of New York.

According to a news release by the International Association of
Genocide Scholars, The New York Times revised guideline for
journalists states that “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 policy goes on to note that “the expression
‘Armenian genocide’ may be used freely and should not be qualified
with phrasing like ‘what Armenians call,’ etc.”

The New York Times guidelines continue, noting 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.” Finally it advises journalists that “while we may of
course report Turkish denials on those occasions when they are
relevant, we should not couple them with the historians’ findings,
as if they had equal weight.”

“We welcome this decision taken by the New York Times as a
meaningful step toward ending official U.S. complicity in the
Turkish government’s campaign to deny the Armenian Genocide,” said
ANC of New York Chairperson Tony Vartanian. “We appreciate the
tremendous contribution of all organizations, historians and
activists who, over the years, worked to provide the necessary
information to the New York Times so that they can make this
informed, but long overdue decision. Armenian Americans feel a
tremendous sense of pride that the Times – the paper of record – no
longer actively participates in the denial of this great crime
against humanity.”

The New York Times recently released guidelines returns the
newspaper to its policy of accurate reporting established during
the years of the Armenian Genocide. According to Peter Balakian’s
New York Times best-seller “The Burning Tigris,” the Times
“published 145 articles on the Armenian massacres in 1915 alone (an
article about every two and a half days).” The term “genocide”
would not be coined for similar crimes against humanity until the

For more than two decades, the ANC, working with its network of
grassroots activists around the country, initiated several
nationwide campaigns to press The New York Times to end its
practice of dismissing the Armenian Genocide as simply an Armenian
historical claim. During an ANCA campaign in 2002, activists
specifically asked the Times:

** What standard does the New York Times use in the
application of the word genocide in its news stories?

** What is the New York Times specific policy on the use of
the term genocide in its coverage of the Armenian Genocide?

Armenian Weekly editor Jason Sohigian has written extensively to
the New York Times, working to provide timely information and input
to the editorial staff.

Last year, the ANC of Eastern Massachusetts spearheaded the
successful effort to urge the Boston Globe to suspend its policy
against the use of the term “genocide” when referring to the
Armenian Genocide. The decision was made in July 2003, setting a
precedent for its parent company – The New York Times – to
reexamine its policy.

The Armenian National Committee is the largest Armenian American
grassroots political organization in New York and nationwide. The
ANC actively advances a broad range of issues of concern to the
Armenian American community.