Общественные корреспонденты советской физкультурно-спортивной печати: образовательный аспект

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Алексеев К.А.

доцент кафедры истории журналистики, Санкт-Петербургский государственный университет,  Институт "Высшая школа журналистики и массовых коммуникаций", г. Санкт-Петербург, Россия

e-mail: cheslav83@gmail.com

Раздел: История журналистики

В статье анализируется деятельность физкоров (физкультурных корреспондентов) как составная и при этом достаточно специфичная часть общего для советской печати 1920–1930-х гг. движения рабселькоров (рабочих и сельских корреспондентов). В работе обращается внимание на то, что рабселькоровское, в частности физкультурное, движение помогло советской власти направить активность масс в нужное ей русло. На основе архивных документов, прежде не включенных в активный научный оборот, и материалов непериодических и периодических изданий второй половины 1920 – начала 1930-х гг. прослеживается, как установки и цели рабселькоровского движения преломлялись в сфере спорта, какие особенности отличали деятельность физкоров. Отдельное внимание уделено изучению организационной работы, которую проводили редакции журналов и газет с внештатными авторами, в частности инструктивным материалам, публиковавшимся на страницах периодических изданий и выходившм отдельными изданиями. Мы рассматриваем их как первую в истории спортивной журналистики попытку дать широкому кругу добровольных помощников знания, необходимые для подготовки газетных публикаций.

Ключевые слова: история журналистики, физическая культура, физкультурно-спортивная печать, рабселькоровское движение, общественные корреспонденты, физкоры
DOI: 10.30547/vestnik.journ.5.2020.127147

Public Correspondents of the Soviet Physical Culture and Sports Press: the Educational Aspect

The Institute of Public Correspondents, rabselcors, was an exceptional phenomenon of Soviet journalism, its unconditional innovation. The activity of rabselcors had a particular importance during the formation of the USSR press system in the 1920s, when the activities of such voluntary assistants to the Soviet press turned into a large-scale and quite influential Rabselcor movement. One of the little-studied areas of this movement was the activities of fizcors (physical culture correspondents), which significantly contributed to the development of the Soviet sports press and the wide audience reach.

The Fizcor movement as an integral part of the all-Union movement of rabselcors: degree of exploration of the issue

The popular nature of Soviet journalism was facilitated by the fact that the masses themselves were included in its work throughout their representatives – numerous rabselcors, who became the main figures on the pages of Soviet newspapers. A rabselcor, or a working-class and rural correspondent, is someone who produces regular articles about the life of his factory or collective farm. This is a freelancer who is generally not a regular member of the newspaper staff, but is an author who receives little or no pay for their contributions. In Soviet journalism practice, a consistent mechanism was developed for including the audience in public life through newspapers: how to make a subscriber out of a reader, a rabselcor out of a subscriber, and finally how to make a rabselcor into an active agitator and conductor of the Party’s activities (Zhirkov, 2016: 137).

The participation of rabselcors was considered by theorists and ideologists of the Soviet press, starting with V. Lenin, as an important condition for its existence and development – only in this case the media could claim to become a platform for expressing the interests of the masses of the working people and a reliable channel of communication between the government and the population. On the other hand, the Rabselcor movement was used not only as a feedback system, but also as a way of influencing the masses and an instrument of political control, an effective mechanism for ideological processing and asset preparation. Researcher E. V. Markasova says that due to rural correspondents there was a “communication conquest of the village” (2002: 66).

The historian A. A. Slezin, who carefully studied precisely the “control function” of the Rabselcor movement, emphasizes that as the state moves towards totalitarianism, various kinds of public associations become not only objects, but also subjects of political control. And this applies not only to socio-political organizations close to the authorities, but also religious, cultural, educational, sports, etc. associations that seem completely apolitical at first glance (2007; 2008). This was an important feature of the Soviet regime, which sought to use the most diverse “levers” to educate the masses and direct their activity into the framework that it needed. This, for example, to a different extent, each in its own way, but equally served both the system of the Soviet periodical press, and the system of physical education and sports, simultaneously formed in the 1920s. In connection with this similarity, it seems productive to consider how the general goals and objectives of the Rabselcor movement were refracted in the field of sports, what features distinguished the activities of fizcors (physical culture correspondents).

An array of research works created during the Soviet period on the Rabselcor movement, as D. A. Safonov pointed out, successfully heroized and even mythologized the image of the rabselcor in one ideological vein, which uniquely established assessments and approaches to study (2015: 80). The complex of scientific works prepared over the past decades allows one to look at this phenomenon from different points of view. Comprehensive studies are emerging, the authors of which impartially examine the role of working-class and rural correspondents in a broad socio-cultural context based on the latest publications of archival materials.

Attempts have been made to re-examine and present the general history of this movement, from its occurrence to the restriction of its role to purely stating tasks broadcast by the party (Lenoe, 2004). However, most researchers chose to consider certain aspects of the problem: the functions of rabselcors as an institution of political control (Slezin, 2002; Slezin, 2007; Slezin, 2008; Slezin, Arestova, 2012); the social composition of the movement and its relationship with different sectors of the population (Asaoka, 2005); the transformation of the concept of the Rabselcor movement (Safonov, 2015). A. A. Grabelnikov (2011) considered rabselcors as a means of self-government of the masses through the media and, from the point of view of historical retrospective, showed their organic connection with the ideas of civil journalism, which are currently being implemented in social networks. Some researchers focus on organizational aspects and motivation of rabselcor activities (Shitova, 2017), while others pay special attention to the methods of protecting rabselcors from persecution: using pseudonyms (Akulova, 2015) and developing the legislative foundation and judicial practice (Veselovsky, 2012).

A separate consideration in the context of this article is deserved by the work of authors who dwell on the topic of introducing press activists to literary creation and the writing profession. For example, L. Yu. Fedoseeva (2018: 90) draws attention to the fact that the tasks of political and ideological upbringing and education of the masses are intertwined with the awakening of their creative activity in the Rabselcor movement. Of course, to be a “blacksmith’s workshop for the press” was not the main goal of the movement, however. As J. B. Kostyakova (2012: 77) rightly points out, “the main thing that ensured the Rabselcor movement was the ability to engage in mental and creative work, which was the main factor that contributed to the intellectual growth of correspondents”. So, in particular, a comprehensive article by O. V. Bystrova (2018) is dedicated to the role of the writer M. Gorky in educational activities among press activists aimed at training novice authors and educating the young literary forces of the Soviet country. However, we currently do not have a significant body of research aimed at studying editorial, nurtural and educational work with novice authors. The activities of fizcors are even less studied – they are only briefly mentioned in some articles as an integral part of the development history of the Soviet physical culture and sports press (Sazonova, 2014; Tulupov, 2018). Special attention should be paid to the educational aspect of the problem of training fizcors, which until now has not become the subject of consideration by researchers.

Materials and research methods

In this work, the author of the article considers the features and the main activities of public correspondents in the field of physical culture and sports (fizcors or, as they were less often called, sportcors). As the main empirical basis for research, the author uses the materials of periodicals of the second half of the 1920s – the early 1930s. The limited volume of this article forces us to confine the empirical research base to the central sports media Krasny Sport, Izvestiya Fizicheskoy Kultury, Fizcultura i Sport, leaving aside regional publications such as Spartak (Leningrad, 1924–1931) or Vestnik Fizicheskoy Cultury, Kharkov, 1922– 1929), which also featured interesting practices in working with fizcors. Within the framework of this study, all issues of the selected periodicals were reviewed: Krasny Sport and Izvestiya Fizicheskoy Kultury – from their inception to their closure, and Fizcultura i Sport – until the end of 1932. Unfortunately, it is impossible to say exactly how many notes of fizcors appeared in these publications over the years. The materials which were sent by them were often published under pseudonyms or without signatures, which greatly complicates the attribution and counting of these publications. However, according to the admissions of the editorial offices themselves, and according to the most rough estimates, in some years the share of content that was formed by freelance authors in publications exceeded 70%.

Examining the publication of periodicals, using the method of conceptual analysis, descriptive and comparative methods, it is possible to trace the changes that occurred in the participation of freelance voluntary authors in the publication of sports periodicals – they reflected shifts in understanding the essence and tasks of the sports movement, showed the transformation of the functional role model of the Rabselcor movement in sports during the period from the mid-1920s to the early 1930s, which was remarkable for the most active use of fizcors.

Also, during the study, we relied on the basis of archival documents stored in the State Archive of the Russian Federation and not previously put into active scientific circulation. We are talking about the minutes of the meetings of the Secretariat and the Presidium of the Supreme Council of Physical Culture (SCPC), from which it is clear how the leadership of Soviet physical culture and sports planned to use the possibilities of attracting freelance authors to expand the mass scale of physical culture propaganda and control over sports movement.

The main emphasis in the work is on the research of a little-studied aspect of the organizational work carried out by the editors of magazines and newspapers with freelance authors: the subject of direct consideration was instructional materials published on the pages of periodicals and in separate publications. As examples of such separate training publications, we use methodological brochures (Antonov A. I. (1925) O chem i kak pisat’ po fizkul’ture. Kratkoe rukovodstvo fizkul’turnikam-korrespondentam i yunkoram [What and How to Write about Physical Culture. A Brief Guide to Physical Culture Correspondents and Juncors]; Teodoronskiy S. A., Shipilin L. V. (1931) V pomoshch’ fizkul’turniku-korrespondentu. Opyt posobiya po voprosam fizkul’turnoy pechati [To Help a Physical Culture Correspondent. The Experience of a Study Guide on the Issues of the Physical Culture Press]), that were also not previously used by researchers of the USSR sports press. The author considers them as one of the first attempts in the history of sports journalism to give the wide range of volunteer sports press assistants the basics of knowledge necessary for the preparation of newspaper publications.

The chronological framework of our research opened in 1924, when for the first time fizcors began to participate in the sports press (although, of course, the physical correspondence movement as a whole began earlier than this mark), and closed in 1931–1932, when an active centralized campaign to attract fizcors gradually began the decline, which was explained by the global socio-political and economic processes taking place in the country.

The origin of the fizcor movement and the appearance of the first practical instructions for freelance correspondents

In the Soviet Republic, sports activity acquired a different content compared to what sport was in Russia until 1917. From the occupation of the leisure sphere, familiar and accessible only to a limited part of society, sport became a mass phenomenon, a powerful social aggregator and acquired national significance, which was determined by the ideological and political priorities of the new government. It was the demands of the popular nature of the physical culture movement and the pursuit of state ideological and political tasks that determined the active involvement of freelance authors and activists in the publication of Soviet newspapers and magazines in sports and physical culture. We can agree with the journalist historian of the Soviet period, V. F. Asaulov, that it was then, for the first time in the history of journalism, that the institutes of “fizcors” and “sportcors” were created, which helped solve the problems of improving the population by introducing it to physical education (1989: 20).

The creation of the institute of physical culture began after the mass deployment of the movement of public correspondents. In 1923, at the first All-Union Rabselcor meeting in Moscow, their tasks were summarized and voiced, and in the spring of 1924, in the resolution of the XIII Congress of the RCP (b) “About the Press”, a program for the development of this movement was given: “The main form of the Rabcor organization should be their unification under to the newspaper. The help and leadership of the Party by the Rabselcor movement should be to strengthen the communist education of the rabcors, to assist the newspapers in the selection of rabcors, to organize political nurturing among the rabcors (clubs, short courses, conventions, etc.) and to promote the improvement of their rabcor`s qualification»1. Also, putting forward the task of improving the training of press workers, the congress indicated that the rabselcors are a reserve “from where new working-class and peasant writers will come from”2.

The first sports publication, which began to purposefully attract freelance authors to cooperation, was the Krasny Sport magazine (1924). Since this was the official publication of a military organization preparing a reserve for the Red Army – the Central Administration for the Military Training of Workers – the editors counted on Red Army soldiers, commissars, political workers, physical training instructors and teachers of military universities as their assets, and addressed them: “The Krasny Sport magazine is primarily a magazine of the Red Army. The interest and value of your magazine depends largely on you <...> Write in your magazine. Raise questions by the practice of your activity <...> Articles, notes, thoughts aloud, reports, chronicle, feuilletons, cartoons, caricatures, etc. Everything will be accepted as a valuable contribution and used on the pages of the magazine. Do not be shy about the form of presentation, also do not forget about sending photographic pictures, drawings, etc.»3

In the Krasny Sport magazine the term “fizcor” was not yet used; freelance writers were called voencors (military correspondents) and rabcors (working-class correspondents). The magazine set a goal – to create a network of its own correspondents in the country. Soon, as a response to numerous requests from those wishing to become authors of the magazine, the editor M. V. Shimkevich gave a series of practical instructions entitled “What and how rabcors and voencors should write in Krasny Sport. This material can be considered the first instructional publication in the field of sports journalism of the Soviet period. It contained two parts: “What to write about?” and “How to write?” In the first part, it was proposed to divide all topics into “organizational issues” (the emergence, composition, development of local physical culture and sports associations, etc.) and “sports life” (preparation for competitions, organization of competitions, discussion of their results). The editors emphasized that they did not expect official reports from correspondents, but messages in the form of essays and newsreels. The second part of the recommendations, “How to write?”, was much broader in scope, it revealed an understanding of the basic requirements for materials: timeliness, brevity, clarity, reliability and liveliness4.

It is important that the recommendations had a professional nature and were aimed at helping the magazine’s volunteer assistant to prepare an informative and entertaining message (“Don’t start your narratives from Adam – the story of Adam is the same everywhere and everyone knows it, start right away, do not get distracted, don’t load your letters with trifles, don’t build endless phrases”) and practically did not contain ideological instructions. The material ended with the advice: “And where is it possible to organize, comrades, a collective creativity – get in a circle and dictate to your rabcor all that you want to write to us. Perhaps the best way to ensure proper coverage of work and life on the ground is the principle of electing a work correspondent with collective responsibility for his work”5.

Campaign for the “creation of a physical culture correspondent” of the Krasny Sport newspaper

The experience of Krasny Sport with freelance writers was supported by the delegates of the first All-Union Meeting of Physical Culture Councils, one of the solutions of which was: “In order to properly highlight the work, it is an obligation to all Physical Culture Councils <...> to regularly send materials about their work, highlighting for this responsible correspondents”6. At the same meeting, the transfer of Krasny Sport from the military to the civilian interdepartmental body, the Supreme Council for Physical Culture (SCPC), was recorded. This was due to the pre-determined beginning of the NEP reorganization of the military departments and the reduction of their powers in the field of physical culture. A specialized publishing house was created under the SCPC, which has already published the Izvestiya Fizicheskoy Kultury journal, and to which the Krasny Sport magazine was added, which was transformed into a weekly newspaper of the same name in the summer of 1924.

Since Izvestia Fizicheskoy Kultury was conceived as a scientific and practical journal for a trained reader, a sports specialist, and the Krasny Sport newspaper was assigned the role of a more lively and popular publication for a mass audience, it is logical that the main burden in organizing a network of public correspondents fell on the newspaper. The journal developed theoretical and organizational foundations for creating a movement of physical culture correspondents, however, the specific work was carried out by the newspaper’s editorial staff. From the very first issue of the new Krasny Sport, appeals were regularly printed to fizcors not only to send materials promptly, but also to organize a subscription to SCPC publications – fizcors thus acted not only as authors, but also as distribution agents for the press.

Since the beginning of 1925, the Krasny Sport newspaper has moved the organization of work with them to a new qualitative level: it has announced the start of a large-scale campaign to “create a fizcor”, having addressed all physical culture organizations with a proposal to appoint a fizcor to cover their activities.The newspaper listed the tasks of such activists: “A fizcor must share with us the successes or failures of his club. A fizcor must encourage physical culture if it is stagnant. A fizcor must tell how our national minorities, adult workers, women workers and girls are embraced by physical culture”7.

A special department for working with fizcors was created in the newspaper, correspondence with them was published in the “Mailbox” section, instructor meetings were organized for them. To study the social composition, educational level, sports experience of fizcors, questionnaires were published on the pages of the newspaper. All fizcors received numbered correspondent tickets, sometimes their materials were signed with their numbers as pseudonyms (Fizcor No. 53, Fizcor No. 72, etc.). Their correspondence (up to 30–40 in the issue) could appear immediately in several sections of the newspaper and even on the front page, in the place where the article prepared by one of the key employees was usually located. In the summer of 1925, the editorial office reported that most of each issue is based on the correspondence of fizcors, from whom 30–50 letters a day come, and the newspaper has “about 500 fizcors in all corners of the vast USSR”8.

It should be noted that the “create a fizcor” campaign was supported by the SCPC and its orders. The fact that work with fizcors was organized and planned no longer at the editorial, but at a higher level, is evidenced by archival documents, minutes of meetings of the Secretariat and the Tresidium of the SCPC9. The result was not only the emergence of new fizcors, but also their unification into the “bureau of fizcors”, which arose with the support of local Physical Culture Councils in different areas.

At the same time, newspaper publications emphasized: “Not the custody of the bureau, but the friendly community activities should be the basis of the work of physical culture correspondents in the field. The tasks of the bureau are in the general physical culture development and instruction of their correspondents, and not in editing their works”10. Publications repeatedly appeared on the pages of the newspaper, in which the right of fizcors to independent opinion, freedom from interference by local physical culture authorities was upheld. This was in line with the general Party policy of involving rabselcors in the people’s control over the work of officials and economic construction in all spheres and was consistent with the setting from the Orgburo (Organisational Bureau) resolution of the Central Committee of the RCP (b) “On the Rabselсor movement” (July 1925): “Politically educate the worker and «turning the rural correspondent into an active assistant to the party in improving the Soviet apparatus, in combating the existing shortcomings, bureaucratic distortions, etc.»11

All work with the newspaper’s fizcors was directed by A. I. Antonov, the secretary of the editorial office of the “Krasny Sport”, who was the real driver of this activity. He also owned all instructor and instructional articles addressed to fizcors, on the basis of which his brochure “What and How to Write about Physical Culture” was later published. The external similarity of the structure of Antonov’s manual with the recommendations of Shimkevich is obvious, but it’s also obvious that it goes further, revealing the requirements for materials in more detail. For example, in the first part, “What to write about,” key tips are on choosing a topic. Antonov cites a number of topics that will be welcomed by the editors: “Our club”, “The growth and decline of athletes in the club”, “Methods of work”, “Cultural and educational work in the club”, “Competitions”, “Holidays”, “Physical culture in Komsomol and the pioneers”, “Physical culture at home”, etc. At the same time, outlining the main topics, the author indicates how to expand them, continue, and make them into a new series of topics12.

In the second part, “How to Write”, Antonov not only explains the basic requirements for publication (clarity, conciseness and completeness of presentation), but also analyzes in detail the specific components of the process: selecting a heading, determining the size of correspondence, developing a writing technique, choosing a genre (using examples the features and differences of information notes, reports, reviews, “revealing notes” and other genres are sorted out). Such topics as communication with the editors, preparation of photographs, and the content of articles of the Criminal Code, which are necessary for a novice correspondent, are considered separately13.

The same A. Antonov, analyzing the organizational forms of the Fizcor movement in 1926, testified that his educational aspirations were not alone: “There were attempts to create fizcors clubs, seminaries, and even almost district fizcors courses”14. However, he himself and the editors of “Krasny Sport” did not welcome such attempts, considering that the training of a fizcor should not be detached from the general cultural and educational training of the rabselcor: “The fizcor must learn, and he must do this by joining the clubs of juncors and rabselcors on the ground”15. Within the framework of such clubs, organized for press activists by central and local socio-political publications, courses were created to study the “basics” of journalism, to understand the first notes, to issue educational newspapers, etc.”16

From the second half of 1926 and throughout 1927, a weakening of the activity of the “Krasny Sport” fizcors was observed. Firstly, this was explained by the limited effectiveness of the “create a fizcor” campaign, as in principle of all campaigns as an assault method, which formed the basis of the political practice of socialism of those years, but was characterized by limited mobilization potential. Secondly, in 1926 there was a reshuffle in the leadership of the SCPC and its official publications, respectively. The former ideologists of the Fizcor movement were removed from the editorial offices, and the publications themselves, who found themselves in a crisis, which manifested itself in delays in exit, a drop in circulation and losses, were not up to work with fizcors. Their number and degree of participation in the newspaper declined sharply.

The transformation of the role of fizcors at the turn of the 1930s: highlighting organizational and control functions

In January 1928, instead of the closed “Izvestia Fizicheskoy Kultury” and “Krasny Sport”, the weekly journal “Fizcultura i Sport” began to appear as the new official body of the SCPC, on the pages of which we can observe a new surge in the activity of fizcors. It was connected with the general revival that the decisions of the XV Party Congress (December 1927) introduced in Rabelselcor’s activity, which put forward Lenin’s slogan of criticism “Without looking at the faces”. Fulfilling the instructions of the Party Congress, the main newspaper of the country, “Pravda” (The Truth) created the “Kalenym perom” (Hot Feather) section, which published letters from the rabselcors exposing red tape and bureaucracy, revealing shortcomings in the work of the state and economic apparatus17.

Following the example of “Pravda”, other publications, including specialized ones, began to produce thematic pages devoted to mass control. The main materials in there were the speeches of the rabselcors, and special attention was paid to the effectiveness of these speeches: according to the results of the rabselcor’s notes, law enforcement agencies conducted investigations and brought the perpetrators of abuse to justice. Similar headings, which were based on critical materials of physical culture about the work of sports and athletic organizations, appeared in “Fizcultura i Sport”: “Na borby s golovopyatstvom” (To combat headache), “Sor iz fizcult-izby” (Litter from the gym-hut), etc. Organizing them, the editors of the magazine called: “It is necessary to energetically remove rubbish from our athletic “hut”. Armed with a broom, fellow reader, help sweep away the rubbish and those who “litter”!”18

For the sports sector, this was all the more relevant, since the turn in the Rabselcor movement coincided and came into resonance with another party resolution, which was perceived as a decisive and sharp turn in the organization of Soviet physical culture. The decree of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks («About Physical Culture Movement» (September 1929) recognized the unsatisfactory state of physical culture as a result of the poor coverage of the masses of workers, its apolitical character, and isolation from solving specific tasks of building socialism. In fact, a kind of “revolution” in physical culture was announced, the content of which consisted, among other things, of increasing the controlling function of the masses of physicists19.

If Antonov, in his manual (1925), warned freelance print activists against being carried away by “revealing notes,” now this “genre” has come first. Moreover, the new tasks of the fizcors gave rise to new forms of activity – the Fizcor brigades, posts, raids, tugboats, which quickly became main. From now on, a fizcor is not so much a freelance writer, who writes about sport events as an organizer of socio-political campaigns and a controller of physical culture activities not only within the framework of his enterprise, but also outside it.

For example, in editorial article No. 41 for 1930 with the command heading “Let’s create high tempo brigades of fizcors!” The editors called: “The Fizcors movement as a mass movement is only now unfolding. According to the editorial statistics, we have 800 fizcors across the USSR. This figure indicates that, in quantitative terms, the Fizcor ranks are not high <...> Each physical club should single out, based on the principle of voluntariness, the brigade of the fizcors, which needs to become the patrol of our magazine at the enterprise. Hundreds and thousands of physicists must come into the movement, they must join the high tempo brigades of fizcors, they must stand at the forefront of the battle for restructuring the work of physical culture, they must ruthlessly poison all worthless, all rotten in their practical work”20.

The brigades of the journal “Fizcultura i Sport”, composed of full-time employees and fizcors, traveled to the sports clubs of factories and collective farms, to sports facilities (stadiums, sports grounds). This was called “raids”, and then reports on these visits were published on the pages of the magazine, assessing the state of physical culture in the field. In especially “problematic” areas for constant monitoring and assistance, fizcors posts were created. It should be noted that this work was also entirely controlled by sports authorities. So, in 1931, the secretariat of the All-Union Council of Physical Culture ordered “to instruct the editorial staff of the magazine to periodically cover the work of the physical culture brigade of the Stalin Automobile Factory by creating a Fizcor post at the automobile plant”21. In 1931, the publishing house “Fizcultura i Tourism”, which published the journal “Fizcultura i Sport”, published a manual “To help the physical culture correspondent”, prepared by authors of the magazine S. A. Theodoronsky and L. V. Shipilin. This was the largest of this kind of works, designed to instruct and educate fizcors: the volume of the manual was 96 pages, and the initial circulation was 5,000 copies, after which, according to the decision of the All-Union CPC, the book was reprinted several times in the languages of the peoples of the USSR for the establishment of physical culture in national republics22.

From the first pages, the authors of the manual asserted: “Fizcors are an integral part of the Rabcor`s movement. They <...> must know what to write, how to write, so that the tasks assigned by the party to the physical movement are completed <...> The main task in this period of time before the physical culture press is to mobilize physicists to carry out the tasks put forward by the party and the government. The physical culture press should fully reflect the party line in the physical culture sector, widely expanding criticism and self-criticism, conducting a decisive struggle against harmful biases”23.

Only one of the five chapters of the manual was directly devoted to the study of the fizcor as a freelance correspondent; it covered in sufficient detail such components of the process of preparing materials as building a text, choosing a style, choosing a heading, observing a genre and typical errors of literacy and formatting. The rest parts of the book were aimed primarily at educating and instructing the fizcor as the organizer and controller of physical culture. For example, the subjects that were most significant from the point of view of restructuring physical culture according to the decree of the Central Committee of the RCP (b) were highlighted as priority topics for correspondence: the struggle for the Party’s line, the unfolding of criticism and self-criticism, the defense of the country, the participation of physicists in social and political campaigns, etc. This was followed by recommendations: how to organize a brigade of fizcors and take the clubs of physical culture training which are lagging behind in terms “in tow”; how to build the activities of the Fizcor`s post in production; how to arrange the publication of a wall newspaper; how to organize the promotion of physical culture press among the masses of physicists.

The manual emphasized: “The novice fizcor must firmly remember that entering the ranks of correspondents, he should not reduce his work to writing only a correspondence. The fizcor should be, first of all, a social activist <...> drummer, shooter in carrying out all the undertakings of the socio-political order”24.

Thus, in the Fizcor movement there were the same changes in the goals and objectives that the researchers noted among the rabselcors as a whole. So, Dz. Asaoka (2005: 120) concludes that while in the early 1920s the Rabelselcor`s movement was primarily a means of “interactive communication” between the authorities and the population of the country, then by the end of the 1920s it “degenerated” into a means of agitation “from above”. We can also agree with the opinion that singles out as the main point in the evolution of rabselcors its transformation into a part of the institution of political control due to the acute staff starvation in the supervision of local authorities (Slezin, Arestova, 2012: 250). So, in words of A. A. Grabelnikov (2011: 23), who wrote that the strengthening of subjectivity in managing society, its bureaucratization and strengthening of the command and administrative system, first led to a distortion of the functions of the rabselcors, and then to a curtailment of the entire movement of public correspondents.


Summing up the results of studying the activities of public correspondents in the sports and sports press, we can conclude that they went a similar evolutionary path with the Rabselcor movement as a whole, which, however, left its mark on the characteristics of the sports sphere. At the same time, instructive and instructional manuals, which were prepared by the editorial staff of the physical culture and sports media, directed by the structures that directed Soviet physical culture, played an important role in the orientation of the physical culture. On the material of these manuals, we see how the tasks of fizcors and expectations from their work have changed.

At the first stage of organizing a network of fizcors, when the editor of the magazine “Krasny Sport” M. Shimkevich was doing this, his instructive publications were a precisely recommendations to voluntary freelance authors, saying how and what to write about.

With the advent of the SCPC and its publications (the Izvestiya Fizicheskoy Kultury journal and the Krasny Sport newspaper), a mandatory allocation of fizcors from each sports club is introduced, and these are not only the authors, but also the distribution agents of the publications, who were also involved in organizing the subscription, and press activists. The work at this stage was carried out under the supervision of the SCPC, which sent fizcors to identify and correct deficiencies in the activities of local sporting organizations, but at the same time, the independent nature of their activities was maintained and emphasized. In A. Antonov’s manual “What and how to write about physical education”, recommendations of a more practical, professional nature, rather than educational or ideological motives, still prevail.

In the future, obviously, the decisions of the Central Committee of the RCP (b) “About the Party’s Immediate Tasks in the Field of the Rabelselcor Movement” (August 1926) and “About the Physical Culture Movement” (September 1929), which literally doomed the fizcors to make their tasks from informational and creative to controlling, organizational and propaganda, came into resonance. The content of fizcors materials in the journal “Fizcultura i Sport” was already dominated by critical publications, which increasingly reflected the introduction of new forms of control. The manual of Theodoronsky and Shipilin that fixed these changes was aimed at training not so much correspondents, as organizers and supervisors of physical culture. In addition, the thesis about the independence of public correspondents, whose work was already strictly guided by higher organizations, was completely forgotten.

However, as the functions of control through the press began to shift to other, more competent structures, the essence of the Soviet periodicals has changed: all publications, of any scale, level and direction, have become elements in the broadcast system of the ideologies that was needed. After that, there was no longer any need for the fizcors themselves, whose movement lost its initial ideological impulse and quietly came to naught by the mid-1930s.


1 Цит. по: Алферов В. Н. Возникновение и развитие рабселькоровского движения в СССР. М., 1970. С. 98.

2 Там же.

3 От редакции // Красный спорт (журнал). 1924. № 2. С. 3.

4 Шимкевич. М. О чем и как писать рабкорам и военкорам «Красного спорта» // Красный спорт (журнал). 1924. № 8. С. 5–8.

5 Там же .

6 ГАРФ. Ф. 7576. Оп. 28. Д. 11. Л. 23.

7 Создадим физкора // Красный спорт (газета). 1925. № 4. С. 1.

8 Ан. Тонов. Год // Красный спорт (газета). 1925. № 29. С. 2.

9 ГАРФ Ф. 7576. Оп. 1. Д. 9.

10 Ан. Тонов. О бюро физкоров // Красный спорт (газета). 1925. № 13. С. 1.

11 Цит. по: Алферов В. Н. Возникновение и развитие рабселькоровского движения в СССР. М., 1970. С. 106.

12 Антонов А. И. О чем и как писать по физкультуре. Краткое руководство физкультурникам-корреспондентам и юнкорам. М., 1925.

13 Там же.

14 Ан. Тонов. О физкорах // Красный спорт (газета). 1926. № 24. С. 3. 24: 3.

15 Там же .

16 Алферов В. Н. Возникновение и развитие рабселькоровского движения в СССР. М., 1970. С. 102.

17 Там же. С. 116–117 .

18 К читателю // Физкультура и спорт. 1928. № 42. С. 12.

19 Гибер Б. В. Новый этап в физкультурном движении. М-Л., 1930.

20 Создадим ударные бригады физкоров! // Физкультура и спорт. 1930. № 41. С. 1.

21 ГАРФ. Ф. 7710. Оп. 2. Д. 2. Л. 44.

22 ГАРФ. Ф. 7710. Оп. 2. Д. 4. Л. 23.

23 Теодоронский С. А., Шипилин Л. В. В помощь физкультурнику-корреспонденту. Опыт пособия по вопросам физкультурной печати. М., 1931. С. 3.

24 Там же. С. 34 .


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Поступила в редакцию 15.07.2020