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Anniversary journalism in Soviet Estonia: representation of Soviet calendar holidays in Soviet Estonian Press

Tiiu Kreegipuu

Last modified: 2010-07-05


Press has always played an important role in (re)presenting the past and creating the communities‘ shared understanding about the history. The specific type of journalistic practices, focusing on the anniversaries of certain events has been called anniversary journalism (Zelizer, Kitch). This concept, emphasizing the commemorative role and ideological functions of the press, can be succesfully used to frame the analysis of so-called holiday or anniversary articles in Soviet press.
The Soviet holidays, organizing the rhythm of Soviet everyday life, were among the most important propaganda tools of the Soviet regime. They were introduced in every Soviet republic (including Estonia during the years 1944-1991) and turned out to be a kind of ‚invented traditions‘ (Hobsbawm 1983). The celebration of every holiday was turned into a ritual that included public events and certain symbols. Probably the most important ‚inventor‘ or at least promulgator of the newly invented traditions, was the Soviet press.
The newspapers and magazines were regularly reflecting, but also teaching the rituals and traditions that were associated to the Soviet holidays. As most of the holidays were connected with some kind of anniversaries, the articles, published on the occasion of the Soviet holidays year-by-year, can be called the anniversary articles and conceptualized as a form of anniversary journalism. The distinctive aspect of the Soviet anniversary journalism is, that if usually the focus of the anniversary journalism is on the past, the Soviet anniversary journalism being strongly affected by it’s propagandistic functions, pays a lot of attention to the present and future as well.
Being interested in the functions and role of the press in Soviet Estonia, my study is focused on the representation of „Day of Soviet Journalism“ (celebrated on 5th of May – the birthday of „Pravda“) in Soviet Estonian press. The comparison of the articles, published on the occasion of this holiday, includes different periods and different newspapers (national and local newspapers). In addition to the general aspects of Soviet anniversary journalism (style, genres, discursus etc) my study is also aimed to reveal, how the journalists themselves reflect and present the role and importance of Soviet journalism in the anniversary articles.

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