Hearst, Soviets May Jointly Publish Newspaper
Hearst Corp. and the Soviet government’s Izvestia newspaper are in the early stages of a joint newspaper-publishing venture that they hope will bring the first Western-style newspaper to average Soviet citizens.
Journalists for both organizations are now putting together in Washington a test issue of a weekly paper that is to be published in English in the United States and in Russian in the Soviet Union. The paper will include Western-style analyses of Soviet and American government policy, as well as lifestyle features and stories on sports, business, entertainment, fashion and the arts.
The paper, to be called We, will also offer editorials and cartoons.
“This is an attempt to find the outer limits of glasnost-- to get around the Cold War barriers that kept outside opinions from reaching the average Soviets,” said John Wallach, Washington-based foreign editor of Hearst Newspapers.
The journalists may find out how much criticism the Soviet government will abide in the test issue, which is due to be published July 4 in both countries.
The issue will include a harsh commentary by Zbigniew Brzezinski, a longtime critic of Soviet governments, on what President Mikhail S. Gorbachev must do for his country to win full international acceptance. Also featured will be an analysis of the Soviet Union’s AIDS problem that contradicts the Soviet government’s assertion that the disease is nearly nonexistent in the U.S.S.R.
Other articles will explore the crime problems of Moscow and Washington and enumerate the most common public gripes about Gorbachev and President Bush in their respective countries. The American and Soviet journalists are also planning a feature that will list some of the best restaurants in Moscow, with addresses and phone numbers.
Visitors to the Soviet capital often find it difficult to locate such restaurants, Wallach said.
He said the journalists from Izvestia have not been shy about selecting stories, cartoons and comics that criticize their government and the state of affairs in the Soviet Union.
About 25,000 copies of the test issue will be distributed to leaders of government, business and education in Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Washington and other U.S. cities. The paper will be full-color and standard size.
Officials stressed that the venture is in a very preliminary stage, noting that the Soviets’ only commitment so far is a letter of intent.
The venture is not expected to make money for some time, Wallach said, but officials of the privately held Hearst believe that it can ultimately prove profitable. The company hopes to sell advertising to U.S. firms that are seeking to do business in the Soviet Union.
Several American magazine companies, including Time and Reader’s Digest, are now trying to put together joint ventures to distribute magazines in the U.S.S.R.
In a statement, Sergei Dardykin, deputy foreign minister of Izvestia, said the venture was the first time “when we, together, have the opportunity to publish a newspaper that we hope will be trusted by both American and Soviet readers.”