March 6, 1925, was the day Pionerskaya Pravda - The Pioneer Truth in Russian - was first issued. Its title replicated the name of the main Soviet print medium, Pravda, as did numerous other newspapers. Pionerskaya Pravda was designed in the image and liking of the Komsomolskaya Pravda, the mouthpiece of the Komsomol organization, and was used for similar purposes. Both the Pioneer and the Komsomol organizations were junior bodies of the Communist Party, hence their main goal was to ensure that the younger generation would become good devoted communists when their time came.
Pionerskaya Pravda has always been popular with teenagers, each of them finding something to their taste. For that reason, in the 1970s and 1980s the paper’s circulation rose to 10 million issues. Since Pionerskaya Pravda still remained a propaganda medium whose motto read “helping the Pioneer organization and the school to raise political awareness and communist spirit in the younger generation,” many schools were required to subscribe to the paper and expected to discuss every issue at special debates and club meetings. Kids did not normally respond to the propaganda part, but genuinely felt for their starving peers from Africa and enjoyed taking part in the Pionerskaya Pravda-supervised charity drives out of sheer humanity, not political bias.
Pionerka, as it was lovingly called, initiated international correspondence with teenagers from other socialist countries, and Soviet pioneers enjoyed their international friendships. Pionerka received about 200 thousand letters from young children all around the Union each year.
Young pioneers were welcome to try their hand at journalism, side by side with experienced professional journalists. The paper also provided informational and promotional support for all-Union and international youth activities: contests, sport matches, arts and crafts exhibitions and was hailed by many prominent Soviet writers who published their addresses (open letters) on its pages.
In the 1980s, with the advent of perestroika, the format of the newspaper was changed to fit the new youth lifestyle. In the era marked by a total absence of information, Pionerka became a real getaway for teenagers.
Now, the pages of the paper gleamed with celebrity stories and lyrics for pop songs, which, in the absence of the Internet, made the paper precious for fans. The last page of every issue contained a chapter from a new teenage novel. It was published in installments, becoming a kind of written TV series. It was a very smart move which made kids look forward to the next issue. Sometimes, as part of a contest, authors would ask the readers to finish the story for them, and winners were awarded.
The Pioneer organization ceased to exist, but Pionerka still maintains a certain niche, though having lost its past popularity.