The Globe and the g-word

When I read today's Globe story on the State House memorial for George Keverian, I was struck by how the paper did and didn't describe Keverian's ancestry--and I'm guessing a few other readers were, too. Keverian, the Globe noted, was "[t]he son of Armenian immigrants who had fled systematic killing in Turkey...."

As you've probably guessed, the missing word was "genocide." Given that the paper didn't use that term--and that, as the paper has previously noted, the debate over whether to call the slaughter of Armenians by Turks "genocide" or not is a charged issue with profound diplomatic implications--I wondered: has Morrissey Blvd. decided to err on the side of linguistic caution on this particular subject?

Not so, says Ellen Clegg, the Globe's deputy managing editor for news operations and the keeper of the paper's style book.

"For many years," Clegg tells DQM, "it was Globe style to avoid the  word 'genocide' in stories about mass deaths of Armenians in the WWI era in the Ottoman-Turk empire. In 2003, after internal discussion and review, we changed the style."

The change, Clegg says, was announced in a memo from her predecessor, Mike Larkin, which stated:

Effective immediately, we are suspending the Globe policy prohibiting the use of the word genocide in relation to the events of 1915-20 in which more than 1 million Armenians died in the Ottoman-Turk empire.

Recent scholarship has established that the events meet the criteria of a genocide as defined by the Genocide Convention of 1948, and an independent panel has concluded that journalists, among other groups, would be justified in using the term.

"However," Clegg continues, "I see that our internal online stylebook was never updated. There is no entry at all for genocide. We are just beginning a review of our stylebook, and this is clearly one of the things that will need to be fixed."

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