By T. Simpson
This ebook explores a sensational crime and trial that came about in Rome within the overdue 1870s, while the bloody killing of a battle hero brought on a countrywide spectacle. a tender southern wife’s homicide of her impotent soldier husband exploded into the 1st nice “media circus” within the new country of Italy. The trial of the widow and her acrobat lover surprised the younger state not just with its ugly info, but additionally simply because lots of ladies flocked to the courtroom, took facets and heatedly reacted to testimony, as a brand new iteration of newspapers exploited the scandal to enchant an untapped readership. mostly missed by means of historians, the Fadda Affair, because it used to be referred to as, crucially formed the younger nation’s self-image, however it nonetheless resists aid to historiographical formulation, at the same time its raucous messiness presages the postmodern centrality of functionality and the displacement of substance via sensation.
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Extra info for Murder and Media in the New Rome: The Fadda Affair
Common among journalists, the use of pseudonyms was a vestige of the eighteenth century when noblemen used false names to hide the shame of labor in the public sphere, and from the Arcadian academies of the seventeenth century, where noble esthetes invented fantastical Greek epithets for themselves. A decidedly curious and anachronistic practice, pseudonyms often evoked a rustic or playful literary mask (Collodi adopted the name of his mother’s hometown, while another Fanfulla writer, following perhaps both Sterne and Shakespeare, dubbed himself “Yorick, Son of Yorick”), while hinting that the identity behind the humble mask was of noble blood.
64 The practice Scarfoglio describes here was as fundamental to this era’s journalism as fact checking is to today’s. Reducing words to a minimum, the Stefani news service would wire only the most succinct and truncated notice of events from capital to capital.
Salaries were low. An assistant secretary might make a median of 115 lire a month, a figure to set against Fadda’s struggle with his Roman landlady, who first demanded a rent of two hundred lire a month for three rooms, before being talked down to ninety. An article in the April 1880, Messaggero denounces the poor pay of clerks, noting that a vice secretary makes less than a cobbler. The five-cent price of a daily paper, however, would have put it within the reach both of the secretary and the cobbler.