Introduction: Agency and Autonomy in the Russian Press across the 1917 Divide

1st Contribution to the Forum: Journalism as a Profession in Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union: New Questions and Approaches in Russian Press History

In: Russian History
Yelizaveta Raykhlina Adjunct Assistant Professor, Liberal Studies, New York University New York, NY USA

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Ala Graff Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History, University of Maryland – College Park College Park, MD USA

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This forum examines the professionalization of journalism in Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union using recent revisionist approaches in press history. Four essays, ranging chronologically from the 1820s through the 1960s, use case studies of both commercial and state-owned periodicals to explore the rise of the press as a source of information and opinion in Russia. Yelizaveta Raykhlina’s article examines the institutions and networks, both formal and informal, that promoted the earliest professional and commercial periodicals in the first third of the nineteenth century. Ala Graff’s article analyzes the professionalization of the press during the 1860s–1880s, exploring how newspaper editors navigated the space between limited editorial autonomy and the growing technical complexity of the newspaper publishing business. Felix Cowan’s article examines the professionalization of the penny press in late Imperial Russia, focusing on how editors and journalists viewed their work as a vehicle for social mobility as well as a public service for the poor and marginalized. Ekaterina Kamenskaya’s article analyzes the newspaper Sel’skaia zhizn’ (Rural Life) and the role of its foreign correspondent network in both carving out space for professional autonomy as well as in bringing a unique narrative of the world to a rural Soviet audience in the 1960s.

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