The Editorial Profession: The Rise of Private Newspaper Press in Late Imperial Russia

3rd 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
Ala C. Graff Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History, University of Maryland – College Park College Park, MD USA

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In the course of the nineteenth century, Russia’s press culture underwent a dramatic cultural, technological, and political transformation. However, the question of professionalization of the press during the same period remains relatively underexplored. This article examines the extent and the limitations of editorial professionalization in nineteenth-century Russia by focusing on an emergent generation of private newspaper editors such as M.N. Katkov, A.A. Kraevskii, I.S. Aksakov, and A.S. Suvorin during the 1860s and 1870s. The article explores the emergence of a private opinion press during the 1860s with substantial autonomy in the commercial management of their newspapers, but a censorship-restricted autonomy in the management of their content. It then examines the elements of an emerging professional ethos and solidarity in the editorial profession. Drawing on a wealth of correspondence, editorials, and diaries, this work reveals the delicate world of personal relationships which allowed editors to balance both the strictures of political censorship and the account books of their commercial enterprises. This paper argues that a limited professional autonomy and considerable competition among influential editors – i.e press lords – constrained the professionalization of the journalism in pre-Revolutionary Russia.

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