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The Virtues Of Writing

Radhika Agarwal of TASS news agency highlights the institution's agenda

“Write what should not be forgotten.”

-Isabel Allende

On September 1, 1904, The St. Petersburg Telegraph Agency (SPTA), the first official news agency of Russia and the antecedent of ITAR-TASS began its operation. The idea of creating this seminal agency belongs to the Finance, Interior, and Foreign ministries. Approved by Tsar Nicholas the Second, the SPTA had to transcribe within the empire and abroad, various sectors of public interest such as finance, economy, trade, and other data.

Ever since its commencement in 1904, the news agency has faced many changes. Nicholas TheSecond renamed St. Petersburg as Petrograd and accordingly, the SPTA changed its name to the Petrograd Telegraph Agency (PTA).  During the Bolshevik revolution, the offices of the official Petrograd Telegraph Agency were seized by an armed naval detachment acting under the maximalist revolutionary committee. On November 18, 1917, the PTA was decreed to become the central government information agency by the Bolshevik government (Sovnarkom).

Throughout its monumental journey, the news agency has been renamed several times. From 1918 to 1925 it served as the first revolutionary news agency and was known as the Russian Telegraph Agency, or ROSTA. On July 10, 1925, it was relabeled as the Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union. The news agency ran one of the biggest networks of correspondents in the world - 682 offices in the country and 92 bureaus abroad and employed close to 2000 journalists and photo correspondents. It distributed news throughout the Soviet Union and the rest of the world and became one of the world’s major international wire services. TASS dispatched on matters of public policy, and the official position of the state was reflected by its coverage of International affairs. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the proclamation of sovereignty by democratic Russia, in January 1992, the new agency was named the Information Telegraph Agency of Russia (ITAR-TASS).

In September 2014, the agency returned to its former world-renowned name for delivering news to global audiences - simply titled TASS. The name change was seen by some Kremlin critics, as reflective of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to restore Russian influence over its former Soviet neighbours, most notably in Ukraine. However, there was no intention of fomenting unrest, and President Vladimir Putin rejected the accusations. Rather, the rebranding of Russia's oldest new agency was a symbol of professionalism, enthusiasm, and readiness of its team for personal development and the agency’s bid to preserve and develop its traditions.

Sadly, Tass is often erroneously critiqued as a propaganda agency and many believe that this task is performed both by the selection of the news disseminated and by outright distortion. For instance, some Western media and press freedom groups accuse TASS of spreading false claims and propaganda about the war in Ukraine. Due to multiple fabrications that have damaged the credibility of its audience and readers, sincere attempts at outlining facts by the new agency have gone unrecognized.

Since 1904, TASS has been Russia's leading news agency. For more than 113 years, the agency has ceaselessly strived to deliver the latest and most accurate news against all odds and continues to do so fairly and diligently. Media plays a consequential role in any nation, bearing in mind its responsibility of educating and entertaining the masses. The Russian news agency believes it has lived up to its responsibility and will continue to do so in the future.



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