Kopeck Journalism as a Social Profession: Upward Mobility, Service, and the Civil Society Spectrum in Late Imperial Russia

4th 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
Felix Cowan SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of History, Faculty of Arts & Science, University of Toronto Toronto, ON Canada

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Through case studies of five prominent journalists, editors, and publishers, this article explores journalism at late imperial Russia’s kopeck newspapers. Exploring the lives and careers of journalists from wide-ranging backgrounds who shared a view of their work as both a business and a form of service to poor Russians, this article argues that kopeck journalists thought their profession combined entrepreneurship and upward mobility with activism and civic responsibility. The life stories and views of kopeck journalists reveal that civil society was not limited to small groups of educated middle-class Russians but rather included a wide range of actors and initiatives. Viewing these figures as members of late imperial Russian civil society also demonstrates that civil society activity could coexist with business concerns and operate within Russia’s emerging free market, despite the critiques of contemporary observers who saw commercial and social goals as inherently contradictory.

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