The newspaper Izvestiya was first published on February 28, 1917, by the Petrograd Soviet of Workers and Soldiers' Deputies formed during the February Revolution. The paper's name in Russian means "Bulletin," and it first appeared under the complete title "Bulletin of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' Deputies." Immediately upon seizing power in October 1917, the Bolsheviks appointed their own man, Yuri Steklov, editor-in-chief. In March 1918 the newspaper's operations were transferred to Moscow along with the Bolshevik government. From an official standpoint the newspaper became the organ of the Central Executive Committee of the Soviets-the leading organ of the Soviet government, as opposed to the Communist Party.
For the first ten years of its existence, the paper relied heavily on the equipment and personnel from the prerevolutionary commercial press. In Petrograd, Izvestiya was first printed at the former printshop of the penny newspaper Copeck (Kopeyka ), and until late 1926 many of its reporters were veterans of the old Russian Word (Russkoye slovo ).
Throughout the Soviet era Izvestiya, together with the big urban evening newspapers such as Evening Moscow (Vechernaya Moskva ) was known as a less strident, less political organ than the official party papers such as Pravda. Particularly in the 1920s but also later, the paper carried miscellaneous news of cultural events, sports, natural disasters, and even crime. These topics were almost entirely missing from the major party organs by the late 1920s. In the late 1920s head editor Ivan Gronsky pioneered coverage of "man-against-nature" adventure stories such as the Soviet rescue of the crew of an Italian dirigible downed in the Arctic. Later dubbed "Soviet sensations" by journalists, such ideologically correct yet thrilling stories spread throughout the Soviet press in the 1930s.
In part as a result of its less political role in the Soviet press network, Josef Stalin and other Central Committee secretaries tended to be suspicious of Izvestiya. The editorial staff was subjected to a series of purges, beginning with the firing of "Trotskyite" journalists in 1925, and continuing in 1926 with the firing of veteran non-Communist journalists from Russkoye slovo. In 1934 the Party Central Committee appointed Stalin's former rightist political opponent Nikolai Bukharin to the head editorship. However in 1936 and 1937, Bukharin, former editor Gronsky, and many other senior editors were purged in the Great Terror. Bukharin was executed; Gronsky and others survived the Stalinist prison camps.
During the Thaw of the late 1950s and early 1960s, the editor-in-chief of Izvestiya was Alexei Adzhubei, Nikita Khrushchev's son-in-law, who used the paper to advocate de-Stalinization and Khrushchev's reforms. Under Adzhubei, Izvestiya writers practiced a "journalism of the person," which presented "heroes of daily life" and exposed the problems of ordinary Soviet subjects. Adzhubei was removed from the editorship in 1964 when Khrushchev fell, but Thomas Cox Wolfe has argued that the "journalism of the person" laid important ideological groundwork for Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika reform program in the second half of the 1980s.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Izvestiya made a successful transition to operation as a private corporation.
See also: adzhubei, alexei ivanovich; journalism; universities
Kenez, Peter. (1985). The Birth of the Propaganda State: Soviet Methods of Mass Mobilization, 1917–1929. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Lenoe, Matthew. (1997). "Stalinist Mass Journalism and the Transformation of Soviet Newspapers, 1926–1932." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Chicago.
Matthew E. Lenoe