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Russia had 5 million bloggers once

According to the Moskow Times in “Proletarian Bloggers Celebrate a Milestone,” the newspaper Sovietskaya Rossia recently celebrated its 50th birthday. Its motto, “Talking with the people in the people’s own voice,” says it all. Even if the newspaper’s circulation is now around 300,000, down from 4.5 million at the end of the 1980s, half of its contents is written by its readers. So were they bloggers, writers, or informants?

Please note that the full article is no longer available online in its entirety. So here are some short excerpts about this phenomenon from the past.

The tradition of the people’s correspondent — a kind of proletarian blogger — has survived the Soviet collapse thanks largely to Soviet stalwarts such as Sovietskaya Rossia and Pravda, which welcome letters, essays and poetry from the amateur scribes. Around half of Sovietskaya Rossia’s content, for example, is penned by readers and people’s correspondents.

And this tradition is pretty old. In fact it started shortly in 1919…

The tradition of people’s correspondents — including “worker correspondents,” known as rabkory, and “agriculture correspondents,” known as selkory — began shortly after the Bolsheviks seized power. In 1919, Vladimir Lenin told Pravda to organize a network of rabkory, and by 1926, Leon Trotsky was addressing 580 delegates representing around 500,000 rabkory and selkory at the Third All-Union Congress of Rabkory.

“These are journalists who can report exactly what is happening on the factory floors, and since they are workers themselves, they know more about the subject than a normal journalist would,” said Sergei Rudakov, a people’s correspondent and Communist official from Voronezh. “The only difference is that they don’t get paid.”

And there were lots of contributors to Russian newspapers at this time.

Several million people worked as people’s correspondents in their heyday. At the 17th Party Congress in 1934, Stalin said there were more than 3 million worker and agriculture correspondents.

This gives┬ásome new lights about what is called now “citizen journalism,” isn’t? Of course, you can argue about the value of an information sent to a newspaper when Stalin ruled Russia… So what do you think of these millions of “people’s correspondents,” as they were called?

Source: Carl Schreck, The Moskow Times, July 3, 2006

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Roland Piquepaille
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