A look at the history of La Gazzetta Italiana
This is a special issue for our newspaper, La Gazzetta Italiana. We are celebrating our 20 year anniversary! With a cappuccino in hand, I sat down with the man who started it all to get a grasp of how indeed Mr. Paul Sciria came up with La Gazzetta and how the first ten years played out.
So it’s May 1992 and the first issue of La Gazzetta hits the press. What made you start the newspaper and who did you start it with?
With my strong background in news reporting in radio and television, I wanted to give a voice to the Italian America community in Cleveland. At the urging of friends, I ran with the idea of starting an Italian American newspaper, La Gazzetta Italiana. It would be a monthly publication of all the happenings going on in the community, not to mention news and information about Italy as well. I received help from an assortment of people including a Westlake couple and former “Italia” newspaper contributors, such as Dorothy Masi of South Euclid and former Kent State University star athlete Geno Gioa. Heading the sales team was retired Cleveland policeman, Harry Fedele. He had contacts and could sell. I assure you his accounts helped keep the La Gazzetta Italiana afloat.
Who made up your staff?
On the editorial side, Dr. Ron Taddeo was a major help. He supplied not only interesting copy about Italy, but also a library of outstanding photographs. My beautiful Abuzzesse born wife, Franca, from Pescocostanzo, was a major influence. Her nostalgic writings of her younger years in Italy were soft, beautiful and heartfelt. However no Italian American newspaper would ‘fly’ without the blessing from the Italian Consulate. Back then it was Consul Biagio Parente who told me, “Make sure you produce the best newspaper you can and you will have our support.” Years later he told me, “You delivered on your promise and you will always have our support.”
If someone told you in May 1992 that the paper would make it to the 20 year anniversary, would you have believed them?
There’s no question, I never believed in the beginning that La Gazzetta Italiana would be around 20 years later. Several individuals have helped me along the way. In the early years, Joe Cocozzo of the News Herald, gave me a price break with the printing of the paper. I turned to twin sisters in Willoughby Hills to help with the editing. The post office handled our distribution and the sales team created vendor locations.
What do you think keeps the paper alive?
From contributing writers to advertisers, just everyone coming together keeps La Gazzetta Italiana striving to do better. The new ideas and efforts of those on board have increased the popularity of the newspaper. Whoever heard of website, social media, Facebook and Twitter 20 years ago?
What have been some memorable moments throughout the years?
I received a phone call once from a man in Birmingham, England, who asked me to say hello to his uncle in Youngstown, Ohio for him. Then there was Frank Cristina of Atlanta, Georgia, who wrote to tell me how to make a Sicilian cart. But I will never forget Sam Scibana who donated his Sicilian cart to me right before his death. I even asked, then Mayfield Heights Councilman, Geno Manfredi, to cart it over to a west side Italian club for display and storage. Today, the cart is held at the Western Reserve Historical Sociesty and makes an appearance every October during the Columbus Day Parade in Little Italy.
Who has been the most interesting person you have ever interviewed?
Honestly, there hasn’t been just one. What’s been so gratifying has been the personal contact and interviews with Italians of all status and walks of life. Each gave me a better perspective of my roots and heritage. This eye-opening insight gave me a better handle on our rich and achieving culture and I thank all of you for the enrichment!