Commentary: Eight Decades on the Mission

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By Edmond Y. Azadian

As readers and friends of the Mirror-Spectator gather this weekto celebrate the 80th anniversary of this publication, it is appropriate to pause for a moment and, with a retrospective flashback, review the achievements of a journey extending over 80 years.

We can perfectly understand the dilemma of the founding fathers of the paper — Prof. Elisha Chrakian, Bedros Norehad and others — who had a solid command of the Armenian language, along with a mastery of English, to launch a weekly in English, reading the tides of the future and bracing the youth for that future.

It was a watershed departure from the past tradition, since the Armenian language media existed for more than 50 years in this country and the community conducted its business in Armenian. The youth were peeling away from the Armenian language and traditions. Therefore, the intellectual elite was at a crossroads; they had to give up the language to retain the spirit. It was not a rupture with the past, it was rather a step to preserve and project that past into the future; in fact, it was a process to have that spirit survive in a new context.

The initiative sounded like a dramatic departure from the past but the impact was not as painful yet because next to the publication of the Mirror in English its twin brother, the Baikar daily, was well and alive and it survived many more years after the emergence of the Mirror in 1932.

In a way, the Mirror was a trendsetter in the Armenian media; later other publications followed through.

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Had the leaders of the parent organization, the Baikar Association, hesitated, or had refused to move forward, with a misconstrued sense of patriotism and traditionalism, a generation or two would have been lost. They would be denied of the resources constituting the philosophy or the mission of the ADL, which were the pursuit of Genocide recognition and maintaining the coherence of the community in the new world.

Individuals may come up with lively publications, which will fizzle out with their demise, but publications undertaken by an organization have a longer lifespan and may continue serving the posterity. However, there is a stigma attached to the publications sponsored by political parties. And sometimes the criticism may be justified as the publication becomes self-serving. Yet, throughout successive administrations and editors of ADL publications, and particularly the Mirror-Spectator, have tried hard to serve as an open forum for many views and ideas, sometimes even in conflicting patterns.

On the other hand, that stigma has not been reserved for publications sponsored by our religious, charitable and social organizations, which serve very narrow interests.

At one time, the Mirror was considered as an East Coast publication, and to be more specific, a New England publication, although almost half of its subscription base was in New York/New Jersey area. Thanks to new developments in information technologies the scope of the readership has broadened and today we can proudly say that this publication has a global appeal.

Its news coverage and analyses reach instantaneously to its readers around the world.

Fortunately, readers react and the editors find out the diversity and the geographic profile of its global readership. Professional excellence has been the hallmark of this publication and to continue to maintain that professional level needs the continued support of its readers, friends and benefactors.

Thus far, the support has been very rewarding. The 80th anniversary celebration is an opportunity to sensitize our friends and readers about the challenges laying ahead and hopefully with their continued support carry the vision and mission many more decades into the future.

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