Initial Lecture - origins, early years, censorship, The Party and the press


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1st of 8 lectures for students in English - the course that discusses what is current Russian media space and the specifics of Russia

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Initial Lecture - origins, early years, censorship, The Party and the press

  1. 1. RUSSIAN MEDIA TODAYpart 1: introduction – from 1703 to 1990<br />VasilyGatov<br />
  2. 2. Course headline and logic<br />The course will cover the origins of Russian media and draw down the line that comes to a present time<br />The course discusses the similarities and differences of the Russian media space with other nations medias<br />The course covers some issues specific to the history and present days of Russian media: censorship, establishment of standards of reporting, problems of the state’s involvement in media<br /> The goals of the course are to establish basic knowledge of the present state of Russian media and to tie this with a history of Russia<br />
  3. 3. 1703: peter the great and vedomosti<br />January 2, 1703 was the day when St.PetersburgVedomosti printed the first issue – day of birth of Russian media<br />Peter The Great was the founder of the newspaper – he learned while staying in Netherlands that newspapers are mandatory element of the modern society Peter wanted to implant to Russia<br />Vedomosti were founded by Tsar – creating bad tradition of the state-run and state-funded media in Russia; both in US and Europe, newspapers were founded as social ventures serving community interests<br />By 1721, newspapers became common for the largest Russian cities<br />
  4. 4. Sideline: journalism principles<br />In 1750’s, the great Russian scientist Mikhail Lomonosovhad participated in publication of Vedomosti<br />Lomonosov was the first media theoretician in Russia (he also was the first physicist and chemist) and he wrote initial Code of Conduct of Vedomosti’s journalist («Рассуждение об обязанностях журналистов» - “Discussion towards journalists obligations”)<br />Lomonosov’s words: “Every journalist should be competent, humble, respectful of the views of others, knowing that "ashamed to steal other people's thoughts."<br />
  5. 5. Media and the tsars: until 1917<br />Newspapers and magazines became common to a vast number of people by the end of 18th century<br />Press in Russia was mainly a place for cultural and educational debate because both civilian and religious censorship had been imposed since Peter the Great time<br />Censors were appointed by The Senate (consultative body under The Tsar) and be The Synod (The Board of Russian Orthodox Church) and were charged to “direct public opinion in accordance with current political situation and the government’s perspective”<br />Royal Censorship could have been established in some cases – i.e. Nicolas 1st was personally approving any Pushkin’s publications since 1826<br />With a few short-term exceptions, the censorship existed as a part of Russian society until 1917 – until February Revolution that terminated any form of censorship except post-publication military censorship (Russia was in a middle of the First World War at this moment)<br />
  6. 6. The revolution, The media and Censors<br />February 26, 1917 the Tsar succeeded his ruling powers to The Temporary Government<br />Until early days of 1919, the press enjoyed nearly full freedom, but after some terrorist attacks in April 1919 Bolshevick government imposed a ban on an opposition publications and “revolutionary censorship” for those that are allowed by the government<br />In 1921, Bolsheviks established Glavlit – Senior Authority on literary and media affairs – a formal censorship body that was approving any text that was bound to be printed in big numbers in USSR.<br />Glavlit censorship was preliminary (prior to any form of publication), decisive (censor’s decision could not be argued in the court), and anonymous (although censor was personally deciding on acceptability of the text or photo, his person was undisclosed to the author or editorial body).<br />Directions for Glavlit operations were secretly issued by The Propaganda Department of The Party; since early 30’s not only current publications were censored but also library collections and past publications<br />
  7. 7. Soviet era: media as a ideology<br />Communist Party always treated media as a weapon in ideological war between proletariat and “exploitation's classes”<br />Lenin insisted that “newspaper is not only agitation or propaganda tool, it’s also serves us as an organizing institution” – since very early days of the revolution Bolsheviks tried to limit opposition access to mass media<br />Trotsky and Stalin tightened media control not only with censorship, but also by banning any publication that wasn’t established by either party committee or local legislature. Only after WW2 the Communist Party allowed other public organizations to have their magazines or newspapers<br />Soviet press was always – until late 80’s – 100% pro-government, pro-party vehicle that served The Party interests first while leaving social or public interest far behind<br />
  8. 8. Other than press – soviet radio and tv<br />Even more than printed press, Bolsheviks feared the broadcast media to influence the listeners and viewers in directions other than a communist dogma<br />Soviet Radio and TV were censored as well – news readers and TV hosts were only allowed to read the censor’s approved text on air<br />Even interviews were made pre-recorded only in order to give the controllers a capacity to cut out ideologically inappropriate sayings<br />Censorship expanded by 1960’s to the areas of music, movies and even animation: some music groups (like The Beatles) were banned from the air, censors were cutting episodes from foreign movies and banning some animation heros (i.e. Tom & Jerry cartoons were banned even as quotations “due to a fact that the house where the cat and the mouse live look too prosperous and this can create inappropriate envy to the Western living standards”) <br />
  9. 9. The end and the decompression<br />Soviet media space lived in a peace and tranquility of a full Party control until 1986, when Mikhail Gorbachev declared perestroika and glasnost. Old newspapers, radio and TV – established to prevent any counter stream in ideologically monolith society – were put in the position to speak differently<br />Late 80’s were years of discovery of the banned: banned history (censorship disallowed some historic figures or events to be discussed in the press or in books), banned literature (a lot of authors were removed from the libraries and other were only available in Samizdat).<br />Important: glasnost evoked notquaity reporting but fresh opinions, not social role of the mediabut educational role, and, foremost – recruited many journalists to the power<br />1986-1990 period could be described as decompression, state of disorientation and pain that human suffers when taken out of depth to a surface<br />
  10. 10. conclusion<br />Russian media exists since 1703; early newspaper Vedomosti was established by the Tsar Peter The Great<br />Russian media in 18-20th centuries were developing under a permanent condition of censorship – both religious and civil<br />Bolsheviks dismantled Tsar’s state “in the interest of the working people” but stick to the censorship to preserve ideological supremacy over thoughts of Russian people<br />Media was constantly used as a propaganda tool and brainwashing machine<br />Glasnost and Perestroika brought to USSR by Mikhail Gorbachev, opened free air to the press and the consumers, but primarily in the sense of free speech, not responsible social media<br />