Worker and Village Correspondents Movement
Worker and Village Correspondents’ Movement
in the USSR, mass participation of working people in the administration of societal affairs through contributions to the press, radio, and television; a manifestation of the work and political activities of the Soviet people.
In their correspondence, voluntary helpers of the Soviet press make practical proposals that contribute to the improvement of the work of enterprises and institutions. The social importance of the information provided by worker and village correspondents increases every year; discussions on issues of national importance reflect progressive public opinion. The worker and village correspondents’ movement is clear proof of the genuinely popular character of the Soviet press.
The worker correspondents’ movement was conceived in the prerevolutionary period and was a manifestation of the class consciousness and revolutionary mood of the Russian proletariat. In developing the principles of the proletarian press, V. I. Lenin formulated one of the most important characteristics of the press: a workers’ newspaper cannot exist as a political organ and be beneficial to the proletariat “unless it draws its vital energy from close contact with the mass of workers” (Poln. sobr. soch, 5th ed., vol. 21, p. 458). Lenin welcomed the workers’ “very good habit… of sending reports of their own to the socialist newspapers” (ibid, vol. 4, p. 319) and tirelessly appealed: “Give the workers the widest opportunity to write for our paper”(ibid., vol.9, p. 107).
Workers’ reports were published regularly in lskra in the sections “Chronicle of the Workers’ Movement” and “Letters From Factories and Plants.” In its first year Pravda published more than 11,100 contributions by worker correspondents in the sections “The Workers’ Movement,” “Strikes,” and “The Trade Union Movement.” The Bolshevik press and its worker correspondents played an important role in the preparations for and the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution. The Soviet government provided workers with true freedom of speech and turned publishing resources over to the people, thus creating the objective conditions needed for the broadest development of the worker and village correspondents’ movement as a movement of a genuine people’s democracy.
During the difficult years of famine and ruin that marked the Civil War, Lenin and the Central Committee of the party did not cease to strengthen the ties between the new Soviet press and the working masses. In 1919, Lenin asked the editorial board of Pravda to organize worker correspondents under the paper’s auspices, reminding them that no revolutionary order can be carried through to the end if the workers—not individual workers but the whole mass of workers—do not get completely involved in the Soviet press (see A. S. Serafimovich, Sobr. sock, vol. 10, 1948, p. 331).
In 1923 the editorial board of Pravda convened the First All-Union Conference of Worker Correspondents, at which recommendations for the entire movement were developed. The conference was attended by 42 delegates representing 17 of the country’s largest newspapers. The conference supported the unification of worker correspondents under their associated editorial boards and the Leninist principle regarding voluntary activity in matters of worker correspondence. The recommendations of the conference contributed to the influx of workers and peasants into the ranks of Soviet press activists.
After the first all-Union conference, hundreds of local worker correspondents’ conferences were held in the country in 1923 and 1924. The worker and village correspondents’ movement became massive in nature. The second all-Union conference (1924) was attended by 353 delegates representing 100,000 worker and village correspondents, the third conference (1926) was attended by 580 delegates representing 250,000 correspondents, and the fourth conference (1928) was attended by 746 delegates representing 500,000 correspondents; the delegates to the fifth all-Union conference (1931) represented 3 million worker and village correspondents.
At all stages of the building of socialism the party has focused intently on the work of the Soviet press and regulated cooperation between the press and the worker or peasant activists; these questions were reviewed at party congresses. Concrete instructions regulating the work of worker and village correspondents were defined in special decrees of the Central Committee of the party, including On the Forms of Ties Between Newspapers and Worker and Peasant Readers (1924), On the Worker and Village Correspondents’ Movement (1925), The Immediate Tasks of the Party in the Area of the Worker and Village Correspondents’ Movement (1926), On the Restructuring of the Worker and Village Correspondents’ Movement (1931), On the Improvement of the Leadership of the Mass Movement of Worker and Village Correspondents of the Soviet Press (1958), On the Further Development of Social Principles in the Soviet Press and Radio (1960), and On Increasing the Role of Raion Newspapers in the Communist Education of the Working People (1968).
Party and state figures M. I. Ul’ianova, N. K. Krupskaia, M. I. Kalinin, S. M. Kirov, V. V. Kuibyshev, P. P. Postyshev, and E. D. Stasova and writers M. Gorky, A. S. Serafimovich, V. V. Mayakovsky, A. A. Fadeev, and N. F. Pogodin directly participated in the formation and development of the worker and village correspondents’ movement.
Worker and village correspondents have been trustworthy assistants to the party at all stages of the building of communism. In 1973, in a decree on the 50th anniversary of the First All-Union Conference of Worker Correspondents, the Central Committee of the CPSU noted that over the past half-century the worker and village correspondents’ movement in the USSR had grown and strengthened and had become a great sociopolitical force. The movement numbers approximately 6 million vanguard workers, kolkhoz members, and representatives of the Soviet intelligentsia. Worker and village correspondents not only write letters and short articles but are also members of special journalistic visiting and on-the-spot inspections. These correspondents are in nonstaff divisions and on the editorial boards of topical pages; they also have new functions as editors and organizers of author groups.
In 1974 in a salutatory address to the magazine Raboche-krest’ianskii korrespondent (Worker and Peasant Correspondent) the Central Committee of the CPSU formulated the tasks currently facing the worker and village correspondents’ movement: “Worker and village correspondents will be called upon henceforth to propagandize skillfully the achievements of the heroes of the five-year plan, to report on the achievements of socialist emulation in the fulfillment and overfulfillment of the goals of the plan, to sharply criticize and eliminate shortcomings, and to struggle steadfastly to put national economic reserves into operation” (Pravda, Jan. 6, 1974).
The experience of the worker and village correspondents’ movement in the USSR has clearly influenced the press of other socialist countries and the communist and workers’ press of many countries of the world.
REFERENCELiudi vysokogo dolga. Moscow, 1974.
S. V. KARAVASHKOVA AND P. A. CHERNUSHCHENKO