BASJ – EARLY YEARS AND DEVELOPMENT
Sports journalism in Bulgaria has its roots back to 1922 when a weekly “Sport” newspaper was launched in Sofia. Concurrently, the monthly magazine "Sport Review" appeared on the market. The brightest person in these early years was Ivan Selveliev. He was an educated and ambitious nobleman who started his career in journalism as a collaborator of "Sport".
In 1924, at the age of 22, Ivan Selveliev, with the assistance of his father, invested family savings in transforming an insolvent financial newspaper into the hallmark “Sport.” At that time he was the owner and editor-in-chief of the newspaper, a mutually beneficial symbiosis. Throughout the years, Ivan Selveliev became the leading sports journalist and collaborator in Bulgaria, converting "Sport" into a prominent institution.
On September 15, 1944, the newly established Communist regime closed “Sport” newspaper. Ivan Selveliev was discharged from the editor-in-chief position and his journalist career was formally suspended. Ivan Selveliev's erudition, professionalism, and European values were contradictory to the ideology of the Communist Party.
A month later, the “Sport” newspaper was relaunched. It was renamed to “People’s Sport” as a mean to deliver the Communist doctrine. For decades after the post-war era, till its closure in 1996, “Sport” was the pillar of the Bulgarian sports journalism.
In structural terms, the society of Bulgarian sports journalists went through several stages. From 1922 till September 1944 an informal association existed, based on mutual respect and professional co-operation. At that time Ivan Selveliev was the undisputed leader.
The Union of the Bulgarian Journalists (UBJ) was established in 1945. The members of the Union administratively formed an association of sports journalists. Associations were also established for international, cultural, domestic and other activities.
All sports journalists, members of the UBJ, were also granted membership in the association of sports journalists, referred to as a "Section." A membership in the UBJ, and respectively in a Section was a prestigious professional recognition. Consequently, there was a thorough prescreening and long membership waiting period. The candidates were required to deliver a portfolio of articles and editorials before a committee. Receiving the committee’s approval was heavily dependent upon the quality of the portfolio.
The first chairman of the Sports Section of the UBJ was Marin Vazharov, followed by Ivan Donchev. One after the other, they were the first editors-in-chief of the “People's Sport” newspaper.
Bogomil Yankov - head of the sports department of “Narodno Delo” newspaper was appointed chairman after Ivan Donchev. Marin Hristozov - sports editor of the "Anteni" newspapers followed. The propaganda unit of the Central Committee of the Communist Party was in charge of appointing media executives, as well as the conduct of the Union of the Bulgarian Journalists.
The first democratic meeting of the sports journalists took place in 1991. The former section was renamed to the Bulgarian Association of Sports Journalists (BASJ). Vladimir Petkov from “Trud” newspaper was elected chairman. Mihail Delev from "Svoboden Narod" was appointed a Secretary General.
Shortly thereafter, BASJ was registered as a non-profit organization by the Sofia City Court. Later on, Alexander Boynov, a journalist from “Start” newspaper inherited Vladimir Petkov. Efrem Efremov - a faculty lecturer in the Journalism and Media Program of the Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” was a chairman from 2005 to 2015.
In 2015, Nayden Todorov - a sports journalist in “24 Hours” newspaper was unanimously elected President of the BASJ by the General Assembly. There has been a resurgence of BASJ actively taking part in the sports and social life in Bulgaria.
The Association is a co-organizer of the "Football Player of the Year" and a partner in the precision of voting in the "Sportsman of the Year" charts. Traditionally, the annual charts and the winners thereto, are selected with the approval voting of the Bulgarian sports journalists.