The basic difference between the reporter in the United States and the one in Soviet Union is ideological environment within which they work which influenced their operations. Whereas the USA operates a liberal capitalist society, the Soviet Union operated a conservative socialist society. The journalist in the USA was free to do his job, report on both government and the opposition without fear of being molested or even killed, after all, government was not paying his or her salary. But in the Soviet Union, the reporter was trained to protect the interest of government and in fact worked for government because almost all officially recognised media houses were owned by the government.
Whereas the US journalist had freedom of expression the Soviet journalist did not enjoy that freedom. Again, the Soviet journalist was trained to support a communist ideology, the US journalist was trained in an atmosphere of capitalism, true democracy and freedom of expression. The Soviet journalist feared for his life because he was working in an environment of dictatorship. He couldn’t talk at all against the government.
The basic difference between the US and Soviet Union journalist is that one enjoyed freedom of expression, the other did not; one was trained in an environment of dictatorship and had to give one-sided report in favour of government but the other was free to report the two sides – government and opposition views – making journalism an exciting profession in his country; one had a communist ideology while the other had a capitalist, democratic ideologies; one worked for government because the media organisations in his country were all owned by the government but the other did not work for government because the media organisations in his country were and still are owned by private individuals or organizations.
But you must note that this was during the cold war. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union in December 1991, these perceptions of journalists in the US and former Soviet country began to change gradually. This was because most of the 15 countries that came out of the Soviet Union started transiting to democracy with more liberal environment for journalists, or so it looked. The change may not be rapid and very noticeable but the journalists in those countries that were in Soviet Union have started adopting a more liberal ideology and free-press perception. This is because most of the countries now practice democracy and are not under Russia again. Recall that Russia was the capital of the Soviet Union and those other countries bowed to Russia.
Today, democracy or what looks like it has overtaken most of the countries that were in Soviet Union. They now work in a relatively free environment. Government no longer owns all media organisations. Individuals and private organisations now own some of the news media so the landscape has changed and the journalists have also started practicing real watchdog journalism.
You must note that this freedom is not total as there is still palpable fear among journalists working in Russia and neighbouring countries such as Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Uzbekistan and Moldova. Though Russia is said to be transiting into true democracy, President Vladimir Putin has done little to strengthen democratic institutions so it is not yet party time for free-press journalism in that country. Some of these countries that came out of the Soviet Union are still suffering from the hangover of dictatorship within which they existed for years. The total change to free-press journalism may take some time before becoming realistic.