Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Warren Breckman


This dissertation is a historical investigation of the Journalists' Union of the Soviet Union, the first creative union for media professionals in the USSR, and the first study of a creative profession after the death of Stalin. While socialist journalism had existed since before the 1917 revolutions, journalists were not incorporated into a professional body until 1959, several decades after their counterparts in other creative professions. Using sources from Russian and American archives together with published documents, I investigated the reasons for the organization's formation and its domestic and creative work to "develop professional mastery" in its members at home while advancing the Soviet cause abroad. Chapter one explores the reasons for the Journalists' Union's formation, and the interrelationship between Soviet cultural diplomacy and domestic professionalization. Chapter two describes Journalists' efforts to make sense of the immediate aftermath of de-Stalinization, through a case study of the Communist Youth League's newspaper. The third chapter describes the creative union's formal establishment and the debates about journalism's value at its inaugural congress. Chapter four is devoted to the creative union's international work, specifically its management of the International Organization of Journalists, a front organization based in Prague, demonstrating that journalists were key participants in the Soviet Union's effort to establish a positive international reputation, especially in the developing world. Chapter five features the debates about genre and audience engagement that preoccupied elite journalists in the years after the creative union's formation. Chapter six describes the changes in the journalism profession under Brezhnev, and journalists' efforts to reshape the creative union in its second decade. The epilogue traces the fate of my protagonists and the challenges to professionalization in Putin's Russia. Throughout the study, I describe how journalists articulated and promoted their own ideas about the meaning and value of their profession even as they acknowledged the leading role of the Communist Party and frequently responded to political interventions in their work.

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