Is the Los Angeles Times a Responsible Corporate Citizen?

Corporate responsibility is a big and often-used buzzword in America today. Most U.S. companies, large and small, have some form of a corporate responsibility program. These programs entail many things -- philanthropy (both cash and in-kind donations), truth in product advertisement, good conduct by corporate employees, community outreach, and a sense that a given corporation is part and parcel of the society in which we live.

If a company breaches that responsibility, it quickly apologizes and cleans up its act -- Toyota’s attempt, so far, being a good example. What happens, though, when a corporation puts its money into corporate responsibility and community outreach, but forgets the truth portion and puts the public in potential danger? Is that corporation responsible? It that corporation still a good corporate citizen?

Case in point is the venerable, albeit deeply troubled, Los Angeles Times. The perpetually financially beleaguered Los Angeles Times is about to hold its annual Los Angeles Times Travel & Adventure Show. This is done, presumably as a community service, to augment the paper’s waning readership and advertising revenue and to raise much needed cash.

When one reserves space at a show such as the Los Angeles Times Travel & Adventure Show, one (read that as the American public) expects that the Times performs, at least, a cursory screening process to ensure that the public is not being duped or misled and, indeed, that the newspaper is not being duped and that the safety of the public is placed before profits.

The public could not imagine being sold at a Los Angeles Times event on an exhibit for a place which in fact does not exist or that is a bona fide war zone.

The Armenian-American Chamber of Commerce (AACC) and the Consulate General of Armenia in Los Angeles (CGALA) reserved and bought exhibit space at this show. This, in and of itself, bears no scrutiny. Armenian-American organizations and the government of Armenia certainly have the right, even duty, to promote tourism and trade to and from Armenia.

However, as reported widely throughout the Armenian community’s newspapers and blogs, the AACC and CGALA also plan to exhibit and promote tourism to the “Nagorno Karabakh Republic.” While this may sound like a tourist destination to some, it is important to note that this “republic” does not exist and is not recognized by any international body or nation, including the United States and the United Nations. In fact, the region known as Nagorno Karabakh is a war zone, occupied territory, and part of the internationally recognized borders of another nation -- the Republic of Azerbaijan.