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A Conversation with Journalist Stephen Kurkjian

Stephen Kurkjian is your quintessential Bostonian: a red-blooded and Pink Sox-loving native of Dorchester, blessed with the present of gab and a hearty appetite for a great story. These last two issues, he made a profession of. He’s retired now, but for the final half century, Kurkjian has coated a few of the most necessary occasions in our nation’s history for the Boston Globe newspaper, where his investigative work has earned him three Pulitzer prizes. He is a founding member of the award-winning Spotlight staff, whose hard-hitting native tales—which embrace the clergy abuse scandals of the early 2000s—have helped make Boston a better metropolis for all.

However Boston is, if anything, a tribal kind of place, and Kurkjian has all the time felt a certain privilege at being a member of 1 specific tribe: the Armenian diaspora, a long-standing immigrant group that has made a reputation for itself within the area since escaping genocide over 100 years in the past. It wasn’t until later in life—too late for his own liking—that he realized his family’s history extended far beyond the dark-haired loudmouths he grew up with on the streets of Dorchester. And far of his current work has been spent documenting what he’s found.

In our latest episode of the Armenian Weekly Podcast, former editor Karine Vann sat down with Steve to talk about rising up Armenian in Boston, his time at the Globe uncovering a few of the biggest scandals of our period, and actually the whole lot in between.

The transcript of our dialog is under. For those who favored this interview, you may be the first to know when future episodes are launched by subscribing to our publication. You may as well find us on iTunes.


Karine Vann: Steve, thanks for talking with me at this time.

Stephen Kurkjian: Thanks for having me, Karine.

Okay.V.: Nice. So we’ve obtained so much to talk about. I’d wish to spend elements of our dialog talking about your expertise as a veteran of American journalism. You’ve coated a few of the most main events in current US history. And in addition about your experience as a member of the Armenian Diaspora within the Boston space, the place, you recognize, the Armenian Weekly newspaper is predicated—and the ways during which those features of your id might, or maybe might not, intersect. So I feel that may information our conversation a bit. Perhaps we will start by you telling me just a little bit about your career. How did you ultimately get to the Boston Globe?

S.Okay.: The Globe was situated in Dorchester neighborhood of Boston and my family and I grew up in Dorchester. My father was a survivor of the Genocide. Came here as a mere lad and married my mother, whose household was dwelling in Dorchester—each Armenian. And I thrived in Dorchester, each as a really type of protected member of my family—bigger family, cousins throughout. But in addition as a boy of the streets, who discovered how you can socialize in a really numerous neighborhood, with youngsters of all ages and ethnicities. And it was an actual melting pot. And I really like sports, and just engaged with the youngsters. One different factor I discovered from the streets as I forge again into my previous is a way of fairness and that was actually pushed residence to me. Because some households didn’t appear to have as a lot access to alternative as my family had. And perhaps it was because my mother and father and grandmother and uncle and aunt lived in the same home with me. And I was watched over and guarded and guided in the correct directions. And other youngsters might not have had 2 mother and father, if not grandparents, dwelling in the same house. Individuals weren’t watching over them, in order that they weren’t on the rails, they usually struggled because of not being nurtured and guided and guarded and in addition warned about doing issues the appropriate approach. So, that sense of fairness of unfairness in life actually guided me as I grew older and sought a profession, needed to have a sense of making an attempt to make issues truthful for everyone—as truthful as attainable as outdoors forces might permit.

Okay.V.: It’s fascinating that you simply point out this concept of equity as a result of I personally have thought lots about what is it concerning the Armenian expertise that lends us to a lot of these careers? And for me, I feel this priming from a young age, learning concerning the injustices of our ancestors—you understand, a number of us come from the survivors of genocide, and I feel like that early antennae to justice has lots to do with where we find yourself in life. It’s fascinating to hear you make this different comparability, where you had a very protected household unit.

I might decide up the telephone in my workplace and say, “This is Steve Kurkjian.” And other people would give me a tip or two. However they all the time have been interested—Boston’s a very tribal city—they all the time need to know who you’re by your ethnicity.

S.Okay.: I hear what you’re saying as far as having a zeal for fairness and justice. As I obtained into my profession as on the Boston Globe as a reporter… you recognize, every of us had our personal telephone numbers and telephones would ring on my desk in my workplace and I might decide up the telephone in my workplace and say, “This is Steve Kurkjian.” And other people would give me a tip or two. However they all the time have been —Boston’s a very tribal metropolis—they all the time need to know who you’re by your ethnicity. You’re Italian, you’re Irish, you’re Jewish, you’re Hispanic, no matter it is. “What is that, Kurkjian? What is that?” And I stated, “It’s Armenian.” And invariably—this isn’t made up—you’d hear a pause in the voice they usually’d say, “Armeeeeenian.” They usually have been harkening again to their expertise with an Armenian. And in-ev-it-ab-ly that experience was a constructive one. Whether or not it was the tailor, whether it was the doctor, whoever, whatever experience that they had. That they had a constructive expertise with the Armenian individuals. And as a reporter, you wish to be recognized by individuals as someone who might be trusted. And that basically struck me. That the Armenian ‘brand’—this small tribe of unimportant individuals, which we are in each group in every state in the country—we get recognized by the deeds that we now have completed. And that, because my household was in my face on a regular basis about doing things the fitting time, like I’ve stated before, lose your arm before you lose your identify. That was pushed house to me. So a way of, “Hey, wait a second. It’s not just me and my family. It’s us. It’s the Armenian community that this matters about.” And whether it was legal professionals or politicians or regular businessmen, household individuals, individuals had an excellent expertise with the Armenian individuals. And that drove residence that have to do things the suitable approach. And that carried on to my profession. My mother stated to me—my mom had worked at the Boston Herald as a librarian. And earlier than there have been computer systems, one in every of my colleagues who knew her at the on the paper stated, “Before there were computers, there was a Rosella Kurkjian.” She was so determined to ensure she acquired the knowledge for the reporter who needed one thing on deadline for a story they have been writing. So, that carried over to me. And she or he stated to me, “You’ll have a wonderful time as a journalist. You’ll see the world. But you won’t make enough money to raise a family.” This was back within the sixties.

Okay.V.: Even then!

S.Okay.: Even then!

Okay.V.: And all of us speak about this like it’s a new improvement.

S.Okay.: [Laughs] No, nicely, there was a golden age of journalism. Which I thankfully was a part of, however again then within the sixties, earlier than Watergate, earlier than investigative reporting, which turned an necessary aspect of journalism and put us quote on the map unquote, you realize, individuals have been struggling. So she stated, “You better get another profession.” So I did, I went to regulation faculty. And enjoyed that immensely. Liked the practicality, that you would find solutions. There have been actual answers. It wasn’t just like the subtlety of poetry or chic writing. It was onerous information. And I liked that concerning the regulation. So I went to regulation faculty and I received that. I by no means practiced, however it helped me immensely in getting info… You turn out to be a a lot better writer should you get a master’s in journalism. But you grow to be a a lot better reporter in case you get your grasp’s degree in another subject.

Okay.V.: Proper, that’s how I went about it, too. By no means would have imagined I might end up in journalism with a musicology grasp’s diploma. So let’s speak somewhat bit more about how you went from this younger Steve Kurkjian on the streets to ultimately in the Boston Globe circuit. What occurred between regulation faculty after which?

S.Okay.: Nicely, I used to be going to regulation faculty nights within the late sixties. And two main stories occurred that basically guided my—I used to be at the Globe. I had simply began a yr earlier than. And I used to be overlaying the Vietnam protests. And I was actually concerned about that. This was actually… The streets have been alive with protests. Every single day, each campus, each church was concerned on this, especially in Boston, making an attempt to boost the extent of dissent in the direction of the struggle. And that was my major duty. Nicely, ‘69 in August, there was an accident on the island of Chappaquiddick right off of Martha’s Winery and Senator Kennedy was involved, a leading determine in Massachusetts, the brother of John and Bobby Kennedy. And a lady had been killed and there were numerous questions concerning the circumstances of the accident… I used to be at my summer time residence on Sunday morning in Manomet, Plymouth, a couple of miles away and I acquired a call. In truth we didn’t have a telephone, my neighbor acquired a call and stated, “Steve, it was an editor at the Globe, he wants you to go to Martha’s Vineyard to help cover it.” So I zipped down there considering the rationale I acquired sent there was because of my regulation faculty background. It wasn’t, it was only as a result of I was closest. [Laughs] Being in Plymouth, I was closest to the ferry in Falmouth. So I obtained over there and I coated it. And I broke some fairly essential stories, much due to my background in regulation. And that put my identify on the entrance web page on an essential, essential story. So I was really concerned in that story. Properly, the subsequent story, I used to be advised that I needed to take the week off because I used to be now employees on the Globe, so I had to take the week off. I noticed within the paper there was a rock’n’roll live performance in upstate New York, so I stated to the younger man beside me, “Hey, do you wanna go out there?” The most effective bands of the time: Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix. And I was a rock’n’curler then and I continue to be a rock’n’roller. And I stated, I’m gonna go.

Okay.V.: And the Globe was not planning to cover this already?

S.Okay.: The Globe was not, the truth is, planning as a result of it was only planned to be 80,000 individuals. Nicely, it turned out to be 400,000 and it turned out to be a very massive cultural event referred to as Woodstock. Properly, I went and it took me a lot of the day to get there, however I received there they usually referred to as me and I referred to as in they usually stated, “Start filing.” And I didn’t know what they needed me to file as a result of it appeared like the whole lot was going to go on as normal.

Okay.V.: What do you imply by start submitting?

S.Okay.: Start filing means begin reporting, start sending us materials. This can be a entrance page story now. And I happened to be there. Nicely, that’s happenstance, however…

Okay.V.: Fortunate them.

S.Okay.: Fortunate them. And so I stated, “What’s going on?” They usually stated it’s going to show into a Vietnam protest. Now, the identical factor of my being on the scene and being a reporter, educated and going and asking individuals what’s happening, that labored in Chapoquitik, labored here. And I went right down to the podium, met up with a few the organizers, they usually stated, “No, no, no—it’s not being called off. This is not a Vietnam war protest.” And having coated Vietnam warfare protests, I knew that. These have been the youthful brothers and sisters of the protestors. These have been youngsters that simply need to take pleasure in a weekend of rock and roll, smoke some dope, chill out. This was not a protest. So I phoned my story in that night time. And it turned out to be proper. Nevertheless it proved to me that doing what you’re purported to do as a reporter, getting up shut, asking the questions, being very open and transparent with what your interests are—I was being informed by the ASsociated Press that the government was going to shut down the live performance. However once you go proper there and did what we do as reporters, you discovered a completely totally different story. Properly, as I drove residence, it took me 5 days to cowl the whole thing. The factor went on for three days and I stayed for a couple of days. Gee, this really does work. This can be a actually essential factor in what we’re purported to be doing as journalists.

Okay.V.: What do you imply, getting up close?

S.Okay.: Getting up close, asking questions, getting info, submitting it, and serving to the reader perceive that something superb is occurring here. And I was getting it appropriately. I was telling the story in an accurate means. So I made a decision as I was driving residence I’m going to remain as a reporter. I’ll get my regulation diploma, I passed the bar, which I did. I handed the bar. But I was never gonna depart the job of reporting.


S.Okay.: Two years later they started the Highlight group. Someone tapped me on the shoulder and requested me if I might be a part of it. I stated, “Gee, it sounds interesting, but only for a year. I don’t wanna give up my bylines and also my chance to cover statehouse political stuff.” They usually stated, “Don’t worry, we’ll let you stay on for a year. Your law school training will help you.” Nicely I stayed on not a yr, but 16 years. And during that 16 years, the workforce gained two Pulitzer prizes and I was the editor on the second one.

The more local you grow to be, the simpler you develop into in individuals’s lives. I’m not simply speaking concerning the faculty lunch program.

Okay.V.: What have been those tales?

S.Okay.: The primary [Pulitzer prize award] was on the the town of Somerville. There was corruption happening and previous time politicians giving out contracts without any approvals that have been essential to their friends and family. And plenty of individuals obtained indicted for tax evasion and all types of things. You realize, this was Somerville at its worst, very industrial insider ball recreation happening. And I feel we cracked that. After which later, my editor stated, “I want you to take a look at the MBTA. Tell me how good or bad the service is compared to other Mass Transit authorities.” And we did. We turned out to be far costlier and far much less service, and the explanation why. And that turned out to be a terrific story and gained the Pulitzer within the early eighties. So, it was terrific. You recognize, you get time. You don’t need to file on a deadline. And you’re doing stories that affect the group. And that basically spoke to me. Doing issues the fitting approach. I’m not sneaking around, I’m not breaking in. I’m not stealing paperwork. I’m utilizing the authority as a journalist that we all have—the first modification, the liberty of data act and being truthful and being thorough and doing data-driven reporting. You possibly can come up with superb stories that make a difference in our group… The extra local you turn into, the simpler you turn into in individuals’s lives. I’m not just speaking concerning the faculty lunch program. I’m talking about masking the planning board conferences and the Selectmen’s meetings, and the city conferences to figure out in that group what matters and what individuals are placing their emphasis on. Are they placing their emphasis on extra police? Or extra academics? In a democracy, that dialogue goes on in every group. In case you cowl it, you’ll generate extra curiosity among the public.


Okay.V.: Let’s get back to speaking a bit bit concerning the chronology of your profession.

S.Okay.: Certainly. There’s an essential 5 or 6 yr interval. I went to Washington. And the Globe had some issues with its Washington Bureau and I had a very charmed profession in spotlight. I selected my very own stories, selected my own reporters, researched it so long as I needed to research it.

Okay.V.: How lengthy often did a bit take?

S.Okay.: Back in the day, I might do a Spotlight piece myself, one piece a month. However having three reporters, we might do a collection, 5 to eight articles inside three or four months. However we acquired loads of play and have become type of a model. Not as it might turn into with the clergy abuse and the, you recognize, academy award-winning—

Okay.V.: —the film. By which you were not really precisely portrayed. I re-watched it yesterday. Even I was offended by that, seeing you right here in the recording studio, such a cheerful disposition.

S.Okay.: [Laughs] Thanks, Karine. I might speak about that. The feeling that this was a charmed life, but the Globe stated to me, “We need someone to bring management skills to Washington. Would you go to Washington for a few years?” I stated, “Terrific.” So I had two fantastic youngsters at the time, a wonderful family. And we uprooted, left Higher Boston and we went to Washington. Very troublesome. I had not coated every day journalism for a very long time and I had never been a political reporter and I was requested to supervise. However I used my, you already know, dint of my arduous work, willpower and I liked the reporting. Either reporting at the Justice Division, Supreme Courtroom, or the White House. I had eight, 9 reporters working underneath me, with me. And we changed it around. We acquired the Globe’s model into the day by day newspaper, not just the Sunday newspaper.

Okay.V.: Did it change your perspective on the best way the U.S. authorities operates?

S.Okay.: Good query. There all the time appear to be a middle floor that neither aspect—even then—didn’t need to get to. I keep in mind that main as much as, in the mid-late eighties, President George Herbert Walker Bush having stated on the convention in ‘88, “Over my dead body will we raise taxes.” Properly for the subsequent yr, the Democrats urged him to vary that mode and accept new taxes so we might pay for—I feel there was the first Iraq Conflict that was happening—and start funding domestic packages within the surroundings, in drugs that needed to be funded. They usually labored on him and worked on him and worked on him and he finally agreed, finally he consented to the Democrats and the extra average Republicans. “We’re going to change that. I’m going to go back on that campaign pledge.” There wasn’t a day that the Democrats—who had been urging him to vary—hammered him for going back on his promise. They didn’t type of get together and say, “Thank you, Mr. President.” They didn’t use this concession that he gave to earn a brand new approach ahead. They beat up on him.

Okay.V.: So the truth of the state of affairs gave you extra of a bipartisan perspective?

S.Okay.: Properly, it’s a way that politics is all the time gonna rule. There’s very little probability for consensus government. The moment that I saw that, I used to be kind of stunned. They play rough. Politics is just not bean bag, is what they’d say, and it wasn’t. However what I missed most about being in Washington—not solely not being with my larger family and in addition the Pink Sox and being part of the Boston expertise—what I missed was making a difference. I felt we have been overlaying the news and never breaking the information. And I actually felt, as an investigative reporter, there was something about breaking information that made a distinction. That telling stories that nobody else would have gotten. You understand, the Washington Submit was performing some. The New York Occasions was not doing enough. We tried to perform a little with the drug wars that have been happening. Nevertheless it’s so arduous to make a difference at a smaller newspaper. The Globe was famend for its political work–coated politics terrifically. But I felt that I needed to be concerned with breaking the stories that different individuals weren’t breaking.

Okay.V.: Proper, and Boston is admittedly your turf.

S.Okay.: We’ve acquired an amazing fertile area here in this area. So I came again and acquired back into investigative reporting in the newsroom. Did not get again into Spotlight. I was more doing faster investigative items and did a pair. However the massive factor that happened in the early nineties, is my sister stated to me, “Stephen, our father wants to go back to his home.” And this was the linkage to my recognition of my Armenian-ness.


Okay.V.: Up till that time, you hadn’t really recognized with that aspect?

S.Okay.: I had not. I really wasn’t related to the Armenian group. My Armenian family, in fact, however not the historical past of who we have been and what we have been doing. How did we happen to be here? That mild never wanted to go on. I all the time felt very pleased with being an Armenian, but not the historical past. So when my sister stated, “Dad wants to go back to his village.”

Okay.V.: In Turkey? So he was from Western Armenia.

S.Okay.: He was from Western Armenia from Kghi. And I stated to him–my father’s an artist, and he was about 80 years previous at the time and he lived for an additional 10-15 years. He was a terrific artist–business artist. And I stated, “Dad, do you know what the name of your village was?” And he stated, “Ask Aunti Araxi.” She was an older aunt, his father’s sister.

Okay.V.: He was born there?

S.Okay.: He was born there. He survived, however his mother lost her husband. His father was killed in the Genocide. Misplaced his brother and sister on the trek to security, 300 miles they have been capable of travel to Aleppo. So I went to at least one aunt. She was unable to talk. She was inconsolable, once I stated to her, “Auntie, I want to go back to Kghi. Please tell me about your family’s past in the old country.” She started to cry and could not catch her breath. I sat there for 15 minutes whereas she sobbed. This was ‘92!

Okay.V.: And as a journalist, you’re considering, “This is a story.”

She was inconsolable, once I stated to her, “Auntie, I want to go back to Kghi. Please tell me about your family’s past in the old country.” She started to cry and could not catch her breath. I sat there for 15 minutes whereas she sobbed.

S.Okay.: What have I uncovered? What’s happening? Precisely, Karine. This can be a story. So I went to a different aunt, and she or he was like putting on a document. She didn’t stop speaking for 2 days. She gave me each piece of data, each date, every place where their household had been. So, at the least now, I had a blueprint of the place to go. And so I reached out to NAASR, the Nationwide Association for Armenian Studies and Analysis, they usually informed me a few man, named Armen Aurorian in California, who had just started a business—he was an engineer—bringing families again to their homeland. And he had executed it for one other family earlier in 1992—and he stated, “Well, I’m going to bring another family in September. Would you and your father like to come?” So I referred to as my pals at the State Department, and I stated, “Is it ok to go to Turkey?” They usually stated, “No, it’s very dangerous…” And Armen just waved his palms and stated, “Don’t listen to them. We’re fine. We’re gonna go.” So my dad and I went for about 15 days with him,and we went to in all probability 8 totally different villages, saw the Armenian experience, went to my father’s village. But a light-weight went on in my head as to what I was experiencing right here. We have been outdoors one of the villages and we have been strolling again from a stream and it’s Munjusun, a very small, out of the best way Armenian group, the place Armenians had lived again in the day, and he pointed to one of many houses, and stated, “That was an Armenian’s house.” So I checked out it and I stated, “Armen, how do you know that’s an Armenian’s house? Armenians haven’t been here since 1915!” And he says, “The windows. Look at the windows, they’re big, wide windows.” And I assumed, “Hey I know those Armenians. Those are the Armenians that open up their windows and shout down from the third floor, ‘Hey Steve, where you goin!’”

Okay.V.: —in Dorchester.

S.Okay.: In Dorchester! These are the Armenians who interact, are usually not afraid of life. They embrace life.

Okay.V.: Properly the Armenians of Boston are a very distinct breed. [Laughs]

S.Okay.: [Laughs] Precisely, we’re not afraid of something. We’ve been here for therefore long.

Okay.V.: I’ve heard someone once name them the Pilgrim Armenians, they’ve been here for therefore long.

S.Okay.: Nicely, that’s true. My youngsters are second era. My grandchildren are third era. However I get on the bus with Armen, and I stated, “Armen, I want you to come to the back of the bus and sit with me.” We have been happening for an additional five-hour bus experience to a different village. And I stated, “I would like you to do one thing. I don’t

Okay.V.: Was it at that point that you simply started paying more consideration to the infrastructure that’s here regionally? At what level did you begin to tune in to the Armenian press? As a result of there’s truly a little bit of a community of Armenian newspapers in the Boston space—including ours.

An image of the entrance cowl of the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine from April 1993 featuring Kurkjian’s article.

S.Okay.: Certainly, the Weekly, the Mirror-Spectator, two terrific newspapers. Properly, my grandmother, who was also a survivor, she was from Kharpert. She was a instructor. She had gone to Euphrates School for ladies. She would read the Baikar. She would read the Armenian press. Once I was working nights, I might rise up later within the morning and she or he and I might sit there—me reading the Globe and she or he studying the Baikar—and we might speak about occasions happening on the planet. She learning it from the Baikar and me studying it from the Globe. So, I obtained to know the Armenian press, and once I started writing articles, the Mirror-Spectator and the Weekly would typically write about tales I had written.

Okay.V.: Did you start producing stories about Armenian issues for American publications?

S.Okay.: No I did not. It wasn’t until that mild happening. And so I wrote. I wrote a history of the Armenian individuals, what we’re doing right here, and who we are. Front web page of the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine in 1993. Took me about four, five months to do it.

Okay.V.: At that time, how a lot had been coated?

S.Okay.: Nothing. Properly, there had been issues relating to the Armenians and we had begun to ask for recognition, ask for protection in parades, or demonstrations, or protests. April 24 events at the Statehouse had already began, however we weren’t getting that much press. And other people knew us as neighbors greater than they knew our history. We had been here such a very long time and we had not been proclaiming our history or what we have been doing right here for most of that point. Only in 1965 did we grow to be politically…

Okay.V.: Loud.

S.Okay.: Loud. Proper. But from what I might see, nothing had contained our full historical past and that’s what I needed my Sunday story to do and I needed to personalize it by way of my father’s expertise. He saying, “I want to go back because I wanna see where I grew up so I could sketch it.” So we went again, and never solely did he see his village, but I discovered my history, and it was breathtaking. And it continues to be breathtaking to me so far as the way it occurred that this small tribe of unimportant individuals turned perhaps probably the most profitable immigrant group in America.


Okay.V.: So what was your involvement with the Highlight staff? Are you able to simply speak about that?

S.Okay.: In that collection itself? Nicely I had been, in the early nineties, one of the areas that I received assigned to was clergy abuse and I—

Okay.V.: It was already being coated by the Globe as early as the nineties?

S.Okay.: It was a case involving Father James Porter and he had been accused of harming, abusing a number of youngsters, perhaps a dozen in Fall River, which was a part of the Archdiocese. They have their very own diocese, however it fell beneath the Boston as properly. In order that they asked, “Steve, could you get on this and catch us up?” So I did. And it just seemed to me that this might not simply be an issue with just one priest. The extra I appeared again in it, I discovered that elsewhere, if there was one priest caught in a parish, there have been different clergymen in that parish that have been doing dangerous things. So I caught us up, we did good work on Porter. But I began finding there were another couple of clergymen within the Worcester space and I acquired a name from a fellow who was an advocate, had been abused by a priest on the market. And he informed me about his experiences. So we obtained that priest. And we put it within the paper. It all the time seemed to me that we have been doing really necessary work that no one knew about. And every time I discovered another priest–and we did about three or four at the time–it appeared that two issues occurred. One was that the church–once I went to the Archdiocese, Cardinal Regulation right here—he would feign such shock and ache that another priest had achieved dangerous things to the youngsters and we’re going to offer solace and comfort and counseling to the youngsters. And if we do discover that there was arduous, we’re going to remunerate them, give them settlements. He also angrily referred to as down the wrath of God on the media, together with the Boston Globe on a Saturday speech he gave. He was so upset.

Okay.V.: Do you assume that has one thing to do with… I discover in group journalism, especially by way of my experience, if you’re working in a decent knit group. You’re going to offend individuals ultimately. Was there that sense of a nice line between group and objectivity?

What’s happening that good males, concerned in a career of generosity, fellowship, fidelity—would do dangerous things? Why?

S.Okay.: Not likely because the Globe all the time realized it was a newspaper first. It was a member of the group, nevertheless it was enterprising and, you recognize, if the Globe is on it, it’s a story. But there was a sensitivity to it, but nobody would ever say, “Steve, go easy on it. It’s embarrassing to our community and our community is predominantly Catholic.” There was by no means that sense. However I ran out of ideas. I in all probability received three or 4 in the paper, but I ran out of them. And what I discovered had happened is that the Archdiocese had put in a new procedure. And that process, due to our reporting, had advised the attorneys for these youngsters that had been abused, “Come in, and we’ll give you settlements. But with that settlement, you cannot make public your claims of abuse, and you cannot go to the police.” So our reporting that we did kind of obtained shut down by this new procedure that the church had enforce. And a number of instances acquired dealt with between the youngsters who had been abused, the legal professionals they went to, and the Archdiocese. Till one lawyer stated, “We’re not taking any settlement.” And that was Mitchell
Garabedian. Another Armenian. And he stated, “No. There is a major scandal here. And we’re not going to take their blood money. If a person wants to make a settlement, I’ll send them to another lawyer. We are going to sue the church for this conspiracy.” And he was, you recognize… I’ll not have gotten full recognition, and I’ll inform you another thing concerning the Highlight film that bothered me immensely, however there were two heroes it appears to me in that entire factor. One was Mitchell Garabedian, and one was the editor of the Globe, Marty Baron. And Marty Baron had just come to Boston from Florida, he had been the editor of the Miami Herald. And every part is public document in Miami. And he stated, “Listen, this Garabedian is suing the church, but the court has closed the records, so we can’t get to the bottom line here. Why don’t we sue to get those records open?” And we started reporting on the lawsuit in making an attempt to get what was happening with this Father Geoghan. It took six months to get it into the paper in 2002, however it was only as a result of Baron had stated to the Spotlight staff, “Go after that, go after that. Just get to the bottom of it. Why is the church sealing the records on this court case? Court cases are always open. Yet here, the court has sealed these records to conceal the embarrassment that was obviously in those paperworks.” And that’s what the Highlight workforce acquired on, and once they broke the story in 2002, there have been dozens extra individuals calling—relations of youngsters, who had even gotten settlements–but referred to as the Globe and stated, “Listen, it’s not just Geoghan. There are other priests, too.” And every of these clergymen had been referred to as in, had completed dangerous issues to youngsters, these calls to the Archdiocese had led to the church settling those instances. Nothing was on the general public report. There were no courtroom instances. However there was no approach of getting the small print of how massive, how in depth the scandal was, until you probably did interviewing. And that’s why they introduced me back right down to Spotlight. My third Pulitzer was on clergy abuse. I came back they usually stated, “Can you follow up on some of these cases to see if we can get confirmation?” Because the youngsters, who have been now adults, have been calling in and saying, “I’d been abused, I’d been abused, I’d been abused.” So one I looked at and I stated, “This priest, he’s now living in a private home in Arlington, I should be able to get him to confess.”

Okay.V.: And that is the part within the movie that was truly played by—

S.Okay.: Rachel McAdams. [Laughs] I look good as Rachel McAdams.

Okay.V.: She took this scene, truly. So let’s set the report straight.

S.Okay.: However that’s an necessary scene and I used to be upset that they gave… this was not happenstance. Because it exhibits within the movie, it’s virtually like happenstance. She just knocks on the door and he comes out and she or he asks him a query. It wasn’t that straightforward.

Okay.V.: What occurred?

S.Okay.: Thank you. That’s a great question. I had been sitting in my automotive ready for him to return house on a Friday afternoon and I had been sitting in my automotive ready for him to return residence on a Friday afternoon and I was listening to the radio and former Mayor Ray Flynn, who was an ardent Catholic, a very good man, had just come back from the Vatican as an envoy to the Vatican, he was on the radio and he was talking concerning the Geoghan story that had been within the paper two weeks earlier than. And he says, “You know, I know the Globe is going crazy with one priest or another, but it’s a very small number of priests involved.” But I knew the calls we have been attending to Highlight after the Geoghan story, there have been dozens! I knew there was a pervasive drawback right here. So I stated, “I have to get this man to admit. But he has to tell me why a priest would abuse.” It all the time seemed to me to be, and it nonetheless is—what’s happening that good males, concerned in a career of generosity, fellowship, constancy—would do dangerous things? Why? And so he walked as much as the steps, he got here down, I noticed him, I walked up behind him and I stated, “Father Paquin, this is Steve Kurkjian from the Globe. I need to talk to you.” And he says, “No, I have nothing to say.” And I says, “Father Paquin, I’m not sure why you were accused, but I know this thing is never going to end unless people who are involved in it speak up publicly and tell us why? Why would you have abused, molested young men, young boys, alter boys in your parish? Tell me why did this happen?” And he stated, “You wanna know why?” And I stated, “Yes, I do.” Because it’s not going to end till people who are caught up within the scandal discuss it publicly. And he stated, “Okay, I’ll tell you.” And he brought me into his home and he introduced out his huge file folder and he confirmed me that he himself had been abused as a kid. And he had one way or the other pscyhologically fallen into this cycle of abuse. And he stated, “I have been abused by a priest. I abused, too. But I’ll tell you one thing. I didn’t gain pleasure. I gave pleasure…”—ridiculous stuff.

Okay.V.: Perverse logic.

S.Okay.: Perverse logic. So I stated, “I appreciate that.” And I put that within the paper and he later was prosecuted and spent numerous time in jail. As so lots of them have.

Okay.V.: Did that change the best way you have been seeing the world?

S.Okay.: No, it didn’t, I imply… My mom referred to as up and stated, “Stephen, you should have told me you were interested in this.” I stated, “Why, mom?” Growing up in a predominantly Catholic Dorchester neighborhood, we had one main constructing, one edifice, grand edifice, and that was a Catholic church half a mile away. And my uncle, older uncle, her brother, was a kiddo within the thirties, and he would go up to the church, and she or he would say to him, “Krikor”—Gregory—”Krikor! Did you go in? What’s it like contained in the church?” Because we’re going to our clapboard Armenian church. [Laughs] So he says, “No, I don’t go in there, Rosella.” And she or he stated, “Why? Why don’t you go in?” “The priest. He pulls your pants down.” And she or he remembered that quote. This is now sixty years later. And she or he stated, “I can’t believe it,” she stated, “Stephen, this has been going on for a long time.”


Okay.V.: Given your impressive profession in native Boston journalism, how do you view the homegrown Armenian newspapers within the space?

S.Okay.: I feel they have an important position. However. All the establishments are changing. Because the Globe is altering. As the Armenian organizations are altering. The Armenian newspapers are changing. By that I imply, their connection to the youthful era. For me it was later than it should have been. I ought to have been a more lively member, a more involved member, a more conscious—awoke member? (Ha!) Shame on me for that. However all young Armenians want to concentrate on their heritage and their historical past and their narrative.

Okay.V.: Proper, but isn’t there a lure of newspapers turning into these paperwork of the previous, as opposed to documenting the current?

S.Okay.: You’re the editor. You’re the one who decides what will get assigned.

Okay.V.: [Laughs] The previous editor.

S.Okay.: Former editor. You get to determine what’s essential.

Okay.V.: Do you assume editors are making the best selections right now?

S.Okay.: I feel that what it’s a must to do is attempt to figure that out. What does your group need? What’s your youthful group in search of? And how one can interact them? You recognize, they are turning into People. So, what you’ve acquired to make them really feel is find out how to maintain onto their Armenian-ness. And there’s a approach. And that’s our heroic historical past… But understand, you’re challenging your self with a query. And that’s a great factor. That’s what we’re alleged to be doing as journalists, making an attempt to determine why has this occurred and making an attempt to figure out tips on how to construct a bridge to be sure that there’s a necessity that will get met. You’re not going to run a full web page of American news articles, however how it relates to Armenians in Armenia, how American decision-making pertains to Armenians right here? That’s an necessary part of what we ought to be overlaying.

Kurkjian’s two-part investigative report for the Armenian Weekly, which tells the haunting story of a single photograph from 1915.

Okay.V.: Proper. And so what’s your newest venture that you simply’re working on?

S.Okay.: Thanks. I’m engaged on two. One is a story concerning the lives of two of my cousins, both completed pianists. One turned famend, helped train Yo-Yo Ma. And her cousin, she had a mental condition and she or he had to give up the piano. These ladies have been born each in the early twenties, yet by early thirties, they have been performing in entrance of hundreds of people. How was it that their households have been capable of convey up such geniuses? I feel it has one thing to do with the households, however it additionally has something to do with the group right here in Watertown, just a couple of blocks away from the place your newspaper is. You realize, they have been all survivors, or youngsters of survivors, people who had simply survived. They weren’t speaking about what had occurred, however they have been capable of convey up their youngsters to be instantly, feel protected and obtain their fullest. So that’s one. And the other one is, final month, Alabama turned the 49th state in the Union to acknowledge the Genocide. As we all know, there are 50 states in the Union. 49 of the 50 have adopted up to now three or four many years…

Okay.V.: Mississippi’s the only one that’s remaining.

S.Okay.: Precisely. And so I needed to cease visitors. My newspaper, journalism experience, my bells go off, and once I saw that, I stated, “Wait, wait. Forty-nine out of fifty, I knew there were lots, however I had no concept…

Okay.V.: It’s a national story if there ever was one.

S.Okay.: It’s a national story. Absolutely. And so I need to perceive how it occurred, who have been the individuals who did it, and the way did they do it? And as I’ve found is that this is an American document. American historic report exhibits there was a Genocide. Whether or not it’s Wilson administration, the State Division, Morgenthau’s telegrams. The Turks can fuss and fume, however it’s an American historical document that’s being recognized here. And it’s to our favor.

Karine Vann

Karine Vann is a former editor of the Armenian Weekly and host of the paper’s month-to-month podcast. She is a musician who transitioned into journalism whereas dwelling within the Caucasus for a number of years. Her bylines have appeared in, The New Meals Financial system, and quite a few other publications. She could be reached at [email protected]

Karine Vann

Karine Vann