Newspapers


Newspapers
   As in other countries, consumption of newspapers is decreasing in Russia. Many Soviet-era newspapers, such as Pravda> and Trud>, enjoyed a special status as required reading for Communist Party members and apparatchiks. Furthermore, libraries and other cultural institutions of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) had a compulsory subscription to these newspapers, which explains their high circulation rates. Under Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika, Soviet citizens abandoned their tendency to read a single newspaper, and began comparative reading of several newspapers to glean meaning from minor divergences in news coverage. Glasnost allowed for increasing levels of editorial independence by the end of the Soviet era.
   In the 1990s, the role of newspapers diminished as political and social debates migrated to television. With the rise of the Internet, especially with the user-generated platforms of the last decade, Russian readership is largely attracted to online media outlets. Furthermore, the majority of national newspapers are generally too expensive for Russian readers residing in rural areas. As a result, many opt to read local newspapers, which are cheaper.
   During the first decade of independence, Russian oligarchs played a pivotal role in the establishment of new newspapers and media in general. However, under Vladimir Putin, many of these publications were acquired by state-controlled firms or companies that are loyal to the state, such as Gazprom, raising concerns about the freedom of the press in the Russian Federation. Nevertheless, Russian newspapers provide a more diverse range of views than Russian national television channels.
   In 2009, a large number of national newspapers were available in the Russian Federation. Rossiiskaia Gazeta (The Russian Newspaper) is the mouthpiece of the Russian government. It was established in 1990 and has the authority to publish all new Russian laws in full at the point when the new legislation comes into force. The newspaper is a powerful source of information for national and local governments; it has been known for its critique of executive power, especially different ministries that often conflict with each other. Trud and Pravda are two of the few survivors of the Soviet period. Both pay special attention to international and national news as well as to issues of social concern. Established in the 1990s, Kommersant>, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, and Novaya Gazeta> are known for their criticism of the regime. Some Russian newspapers, for example, Vedomosti (The News), are either associated with Western media outlets—in this case, with the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times—or model themselves on Western business publications. The circulation of most newspapers varies from 100,000 to 250,000 copies. A much larger circulation is found among the popular press. The most famous tabloid newspapers are Argumenti i fakty (The Arguments and the Facts), a weekly with over 2 million subscribers; Komsomolskaia Pravda at 660,000 copies; and Moskovskii Komsomolets (Moscow’s Komsomol Member) at 1.2 million copies. These and other Russian newspapers still use their Soviet-era titles; however, they have been completely reinvented and rebranded for the postSoviet era. For example, Komsomolskaia Pravda used to be a youth version of the party-oriented Pravda. Today, it is a popular tabloid that publishes sensational news, scandalous reports, and entertainment reporting.
   In post-Soviet Russia, the Soviet tradition of trade newspapers remains in effect: Uchitel’ skaia gazeta (Teachers’ Newspaper)—as the title suggests—publishes materials that may be of interest to Russian teachers and all people involved in Russian education. There are also lifestyle publications, such as Sovestskii Sport (Soviet Sport) and Mir Sadovoda (The World of the Gardener), which caters to the interests of Russian dacha enthusiasts. Unlike in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), it is common for contemporary Russian newspapers to contain classified sections. In fact, a few newspapers, for example Iz ruk v ruki (From Hands to Hands), specialize in the publication of classified sections and various private advertisements.
   Important web-based newspapers include www.utro.ru, www.vesti.ru, and www.gazeta.ru. There are also English-language newspapers, with the Moscow Times and St. Petersburg Times being the most popular.
   See also RIA Novosti.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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