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Title: A compass in the sea of life : Soviet journalism, the public, and the limits of reform after Stalin, 1953-1968
Author: Huxtable, Simon
ISNI:       0000 0004 2736 6977
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines the development of Soviet journalism between 1953 and 1968 through a case study of the youth newspaper Komsomol’skaia pravda. Stalin’s death removed the climate of fear and caution that had hitherto characterised Soviet journalism, and allowed for many values to be debated and renegotiated. This study examines these debates within their wider professional, social, and political contexts, and thus illuminates the possibilities and limits of reform in the post-Stalin era. In a period of rising educational levels, a widely-perceived crisis of youth values, and growing mass media saturation both from within the Soviet Union and from outside, Komsomol’skaia pravda journalists’ understanding of themselves as protectors and educators of the public came into conflict with the belief that the press should be entertaining and informative. Moreover, there were continued tensions between the requirement for the press to be a beacon of social change, which journalists enthusiastically embraced, and the need for it to ensure social stability. This led to the collapse of the Stalinist ‘propaganda state’ model. The thesis comprises five short thematic histories, each discussing different facets of the newspaper’s work. It arrays a wide range of sources, from memoirs to Agit-Prop documents, but its main sources are the newspapers themselves and the transcripts of editorial discussions and Party meetings, which together explain not only what was published, but why. By examining the press from the point of view of its producers, this study challenges previous interpretations of Soviet propaganda. It shows that Soviet journalists were not wholly subservient to Party dictates, but were not dissidents either. Instead, the thesis suggests that the professionalization of journalism and relaxation of political controls allowed journalists to develop shared norms and establish priorities that borrowed from, but differed from those of the Party, leading to frequent conflict and confusion.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available