Biggest News Agencies TASS Part 1

About one of the biggest news organizations TASS of Russia, formerly the Soviet Union, history of the founding, how it operates.



Name of Agency and Country: TASS (Telegrafnoie Agenstvo Sovietskavo Soiuza), U.S.S.R.

When and How Founded: Set up in 1918 (shortly after the October Revolution) under the name of ROSTA. Took its present name in 1925.

Modus Operandi: As the major government news agency, TASS is entrusted with collecting and disseminating most news within the Soviet Union. (It is supplemented by the smaller Novosti ["News"] Agency.) It has over 1,500 correspondents in all major Russian cities. It relies mostly on teletypes for collecting data and uses radio extensively for its dissemination. It also has contracts with AP, UPI, and other agencies for the exchange of news.

Abroad, TASS competes, to some degree, with the other "Big Five" international agencies. TASS collects news in some 60 countries and disseminates it--along with its official version of Russian events--to a total of 6,000 subscribers, the great majority of them in the homeland. Great emphasis is put on circulating the service in third-world areas. TASS has only six subscribers in the U.S., although it operates bureaus in Washington, New York and San Francisco.

TASS possesses a virtual monopoly on news distribution in Soviet-controlled territories where all newspapers must subscribe (although some of them also now buy foreign services). It puts out over 2 1/2 million words per day in Russian, English, German, Spanish, French, and Arabic.

TASS news releases come in three versions. Green or Blue TASS is severely censored news prepared for public consumption within the U.S.S.R. and distribution to foreign countries. It is edited down to material deemed consistent with the official Party line and free of any embarrassing disclosures.

A second news version is White TASS, sometimes numbering over 100 pages. The equivalent of a "secret" report, White TASS is issued daily to government ministries, Party headquarters, and the offices of leading Soviet newspapers, such as Pravda and Izvestia. A majority of the TASS work force is in fact involved in gathering information for the White TASS sheets. White TASS encompasses far more material on foreign developments than Green/Blue TASS and also contains accurate and revelatory information on domestic happenings.

The third and most carefully controlled news output is Red TASS, printed on red paper. It goes only to the very top echelons of the Soviet government and Communist party and to the editors-in-chief of major Russian newspapers. Considering the selective nature of its distribution, it does not carry anything very shocking. Rather than containing material garnered through espionage or special intelligence, Red TASS covers stories readily available to most readers of Western newspapers.

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