Journalism in Wartime

War journalism in the Soviet Union was an important method of propaganda, promoting an image of the Soviet armed forces as a heroic force in the struggle for the establishment of an effective communist state and society. Beginning in 1917, following the February Revolution, the Bolsheviks began to take control of the media under Lenin’s leadership. The two pamphlets presented here--Perom i vintovkoi and Zhurnalist na voine--were published in 1928 and 1930, respectively, and each serve to further the agenda of the burgeoning Bolshevik state from different angles.

Peroim i vintovkoi--whose full title translates to Pen and Rifle: About the Danger of War and the Tasks of the Sel’korov--addresses the role of rural correspondents in the Soviet press during wartime. (Sel’korov is a term used to denote the head of a rural village in the Soviet system who also served as a correspondent in the press.) The role of Sel’korov was established and guided by the Bolshevik party as a way to establish their control and influence in the countryside, where the party had struggled to find support, but was made up of a network of volunteer writers who were relatively free from the state’s tight grip and authority. Zhurnalist na voine--or The Journalist in War--addresses the role of journalists in wartime more generally.

Both pamphlets serve as testaments to how the early Soviet Union used journalists to further its aims. For those unable to read Russian, the cartoons and photographs of journalists on the front visually illustrate this form of propaganda.