Established in San Francisco in 1877, La Scintilla Italiana was founded by Commendatore John F. Fugazi, the Italian Community’s foremost philanthropist. Known as il papa della colonia (the father of the colony), Fugazi was frustrated with the large Italian newspapers that were run by powerful publishers and editors, who alone decided what should and should not be published. Fugazi believed that everything of interest to the Italian Community should be printed, and on October 6, 1877 he published the very first edition of his new newspaper.
It was hugely popular, but the costs of ink, paper, labor, and distribution mounted quickly. Publishing everything of interest required more money than could be generated by subscriptions and advertising revenue. Consequently, less than two years after its founding, La Scintilla Italiana was merged with la vecchia signora of Italian newspapers, La Voce del Popolo. As a testament to its immense popularity in the Italian Community, La Voce del Popolo continued to keep the name of La Scintilla Italiana as part of its masthead for well over a decade.
Eventually, La Voce del Popolo was absorbed by it’s rival daily newspaper L’Italia, which was published by bigger-than-life, iconic promoter of the Italian Colony, Ing. Ettore Patrizi. L’Italia was a powerhouse in the Italian Community, and at its zenith was the largest foreign-language newspaper west of Chicago. But nearly twenty years after Patrizi’s death, L’Italia ceased publication due to declining Italian-language readership. Within a year after the closing of L’Italia, Father Costanzo of Saint Peter and Paul Italian Catholic Church convinced one of the last employees of L’Italia, Eve Sodo, to start a new newspaper for the Italian Community. L’Eco d’Italia published news in both Italian and English, and was the news source of choice for Italians and Italian-Americans throughout Northern California. But eventually the financial burden of maintaining the newspaper became overwhelming, and Eve Sodo guided the merger with L’Italo-Americano, a weekly newspaper in Los Angeles that had been publishing since 1908.
In the years since, L’Italo-Americano has been the sole source of Italian-related news, not only for the San Francisco Bay Area, but for the entire West Coast from Vancouver to San Diego. Under its current leadership, L’Italo-Americano has done a stellar job of keeping the entire community well informed, and has met the challenges of producing a newspaper in an increasingly digital world. Because of it’s broad reach and limited resources, however, it just isn’t possible to bring all the news of interest to Bay Area Italians, Italian-Americans and italophiles.
It is primarily for that reason that a small group of local community leaders banded together to revive the old La Scintilla Italiana, complete with John F. Fugazi’s original editorial policy: “Qualunque correspondenza o communicazione diretta alla SCINTILLA che contenga notizie interressanti alla Colonia Italiana, verrà immediatamente pubblicata.” (Any correspondence or communication sent to La Scintilla that contains news of interest to the Italian Colony, will be published immediately).
After four years as a columnist, news reporter, press photographer, and ultimately Northern California Editor for L’Italo-Americano, Nickolas Marinelli took up the leadership role of Editor-in-Chief of La Scintilla Italiana. In doing so, he made it clear that La Scintilla Italiana was not to be a rival or competitor of L’Italo-Americano, but rather, a humble supplement to it, which focuses on local news.
La Scintilla Italiana‘s all-volunteer staff is dedicated to covering everything of interest to the Italian Community of the San Francisco Bay Area. Without the financial and time constraints of Fugazi’s ink-and-paper model, La Scintilla Italiana‘s all-digital format allows for all the news to be distributed not weekly, but as it happens—and to the entire community simultaneously.
After a one hundred and thirty-six year hiatus, La Scintilla Italiana is back again, and though we are starting with virtually nothing, we are fully committed to becoming the Bay Area’s News Source for All Things Italian.”