The article explores the kinds of institutions and networks that promoted a reading economy in periodicals in Moscow and Petersburg in the first third of the nineteenth century. The article examines why Petersburg experienced a dramatic growth in periodical publishing during this time period, and what factors constrained Moscow’s periodical publishing market. Looking at official institutions, public social venues, and individual journalists like Nikolai Grech, Faddei Bulgarin, and Osip Senkovskii, the article argues that institutional support and a thickening of public and private networks enabled the rise of a commercial and professional press in the 1820s. To bring the rise of Petersburg journalism into sharper relief, the article also examines the early career of Nikolai Polevoi and the circumstances constraining Moscow publishing in the first third of the nineteenth century. The article draws on recent scholarship examining the press as an “infrastructure” or “network” itself, as well as on theories of the press as part of a “network of means” regulating information and communication.
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.