Anna Magzanyan

Strategist Anna Magzanyan Joins Dr. Soon-Shiong to Grow the LA Times

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LOS ANGELES — Among the many influential Armenians in Los Angeles, Anna Magzanyan of the Los Angeles Times stands out as a top marketing strategist with a background that covers all types of media to date. She was hired in March of this year as head of strategy and revenue but also as chief of staff to Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, a philanthropist who is owner and executive chairman of the LA Times.

Magzanyan noted that she is working closely with the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Tribune to increase revenue with their existing portfolio and create new opportunities and products for this purpose. She oversees advertising, circulation, marketing, ad operations, business development and events for the Times. She said, “I am excited to work closely with Dr. Shoon-Shiong and bring his vision to life. It’s great to be back at the Los Angeles Times because journalism is so important to democracy.”

Dr. Soon-Shiong clearly proclaimed his intentions for the paper in a September 27, 2020 article: “Our guiding hope has been to rebuild the Times following years of disinvestment, strengthen the newsroom that plays a critical role in our democracy, and help make the paper a beacon of truth and inspiration. We also feel a deep personal responsibility and duty to fight racism and bias.”

Even though at present Dr. Soon-Shiong is focused on finding a vaccine for Covid-19, he is still involved concerning the vision and direction of the LA Times. Since Magzanyan began her new position this year, she has been learning about the various departments and meeting with everyone in the organization. She has also been developing plans for implementation in various areas of the newspaper.

Magzanyan remarked that despite the financial challenges for the LA Times, the company has expanded its digital portfolio and subscription model. With Dr. Soon-Shiong at the helm, it was able to rejuvenate and revitalize the newsroom with 140 new reporters. Since he started, there are more resources and a strong focus on increasing diversity in the company.

She said she is looking at how the LA Times is positioned for the modern day.

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Magzanyan looked back at an earlier stint when she worked at the newspaper to explain the current situation. She was vice president for Advertiser Marketing and Events from 2005 to 2011. She stated, “When I joined in 2005, we made an assumption that print would be gone because digital was the new wave of the future. As we embark on 2020, print is still at the forefront with digital media right beside it. We continue to have strong numbers for Sunday’s print circulation while still growing our digital portfolio very quickly.”

Magzanyan said that though print is declining, there are opportunities to bring products to the marketplace that are special to people, such as, for example, the Kobe commemorative issue. Print is still relevant with several industries, including the entertainment business, especially when highlighting nominees for Oscar and Emmys.

Magzanyan said, “Many industries are trying to find their voice and execution in the digital space. They are trying to evolve their media choices as publishing companies continue to invest in digital products. We are seeing companies explore video and podcasts across many industries.”

Covid may have accelerated these changes, and it does affect advertising revenues, but Magzanyan said, “We have seen a huge increase in digital paid subscribers. The Los Angeles Times is continually investing in new content vehicles such as podcast programming, videos and creating new virtual events to bring the business and local communities together. We are working with advertisers and clients to be able to meet their demands.”

She added, “We will continue to evolve with our clients to create new ways in which they advertise and focus on increasing our readership. Both of these revenue components are important to our business.”

When asked about how local news coverage in areas like Glendale, with many Armenians, might change after the Glendale News-Press was closed by the LA Times earlier this year, Magzanyan said, “We are very focused on local coverage. What we are trying to accomplish on a bigger scale is to bring more local coverage to the Los Angeles Times.”

Anna Magzanyan with her family in Artsakh: from left, husband John Mavoyan, and children Jolie and Gevork Mavoyan

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Background

Magzanyan’s father’s family is from Musa Dagh and her mother’s side from Zeytun. Her family left Yerevan for the United States in 1980, when she was only 4. She grew up in Los Angeles and attended various American private schools, but was sent by her parents to Armenian Saturday school. She said, “My parents were proud of our Armenian heritage. We had to read and write in Armenian, and follow Armenian traditions. My goal is to continue this tradition with my children.”

“I am a very proud Armenian living in America. Nothing more special than meeting other Armenians around the world and discovering their background. I love my country as much as I love my home in America,” Magzanyan said.

She tries to visit Yerevan with her family every year if possible, and if not, every other year. When they visited Artsakh several years ago, she exclaimed, “I have never seen a more beautiful place. So much history, beauty and peace! Armenia too is so beautiful and what is happening now is breaking my heart.”

Though her children were born in the United States, they have been going to Armenian day school from the start of their education. She said, “I love that they know all the Armenian hymns, songs and prayers. It is a very essential part of who we are and I embrace it daily.”

She added that she supports Armenian fundraising causes, and “when the time comes that I need to speak up, I speak up.”

Magzanyan went to California State University, Northridge and graduated with a psychology degree in 1997. As she tried to figure out what she would enjoy doing, she said she stumbled into media as her first job. She tried the agency client side, doing marketing and advertising, and then eventually went into the publishing world. She also earned an MBA from the University of La Verne.

Prior to her current position at the LA Times, Magzanyan was publisher and CEO of the Los Angeles Business Journal for three years, where she increased its revenue and profit. She also has served in executive positions at the Hollywood Reporter and iHeartRadio. She has consulted for Omni Media and the Houston Chronicle. Prior to joining publishing, she worked in the media managing brands such as Ketel One, Crystal Cruises, Tourism New Zealand and Singapore Airlines.

Los Angeles Times Coverage of Azerbaijan Attacks on Artsakh

Complaints in the Armenian community about the newspaper’s coverage of the current attacks on Artsakh and Armenia by Azerbaijan culminated in a demonstration in front of its offices in El Segundo on October 6, with protestors chanting “Shame on the L.A. Times.” They were upset not only by initial coverage indicating equivalence in the positions of both sides in the fighting, and lower figures of Armenians at Los Angeles rallies than others estimated, but also specifically by the publication of a quotation on October 5 from Nasimi Aghayev, consul general of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles, who said, that Armenia and its allies were promoting “racist and white supremacist propaganda.”

Magzanyan made it clear that she doesn’t have a say in editorial coverage. While this was not the opinion of the Los Angeles Times reporter, and there were several other quotes from Armenian leaders in the article, she agreed that the Aghayev quote left many Armenian readers in shock and upset. Armenians are a very inclusive people, she said, noting that “Armenians do not promote white supremacy because we are all immigrants and the children of immigrants. Our history was denied by this quote once again.” Following the protest, she observed that the Los Angeles Times reported on all the reasons why the Armenians were protesting in front of the newspaper’s building. As for reporting the number of people present at a protest, she said that it is always difficult to estimate.

The Times, she said, escalated its coverage of what is happening in Artsakh, and as more information came out about Turkey’s involvement and Azerbaijani aggression, it was able to put more stories forward. She said that it is day 13 now (this interview was conducted on October 9), and there have been 13 days of photos and information published (15 articles in all). There are more stories about the history of the region and explanations of what led to the current fighting. Without, in other words, putting a formal correction in the paper, these additional stories have provided the originally missing explanations or context, she said. Additionally, to provide more accurate reporting, the Los Angeles Times has sent a journalist to Artsakh to provide eyewitness reports on the current war.

The Times primarily covers local news and uses various news services to supplement this, but it also has international reporters. “What happens in Artsakh is extremely important to the local Armenian community here. Los Angeles happens to have a large Armenian community, and I am excited that Los Angeles Times is taking their interests into consideration. While staying relevant to its readers, it is essential that the newspaper provides them with coverage that is reliable,” Magzanyan said.

The Power of the Press

It’s a very difficult time for Armenians around the world, declared Magzanyan. “I am a descendant of survivors of the Genocide and seeing Azerbaijan’s aggression with Turkey’s support is very concerning and scary. We need America to get involved and stop the war immediately. Armenia wants peace. We are only 3 million people in Armenia fighting against 10 million Azerbaijanis with the help of Syrian mercenaries and Turkey. We have lost so many soldiers and it breaks my heart daily,” she said.

Magzanyan believes that journalism is necessary to bring awareness to situations and has the power to create change. She said, “I really believe in the power of investigative reporting. It has the ability to get the attention of those in power to initiate change. After all, journalism is important to democracy as it allows the citizens of a country to have information about anything they want to know. Journalists are

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