Definition: American news publications targeted at Italian American and immigrant Italian communities
Significance: Newspapers, magazines, and journals designed to appeal to the Italian community in America, often published in Italian, provided new immigrants and succeeding generations important information about both the United States and Italy, helping immigrants acclimate to their new homeland while remaining in touch with their roots.
News vehicles for Italian immigrants in America were available as early as 1836, when El Correro Atlantico appeared in New Orleans. New York City had its first Italian-language paper, L’Eco d’Italia, in 1850, and even before the great influx of Italians into the United States between 1880 and 1920 several other major cities could boast of having one or more publications that catered to this ethnic group.
Because Italian immigrants generally clustered together in neighborhoods that were dubbed “Little Italies,” it was easy for publishers to distribute their newspapers to waiting audiences, most of whom were poor and ignorant of American customs. Many publications contained stories about events in Italy as well as news about America, enabling immigrants to stay in touch with the old country while adjusting to their new home. Such publications were also convenient media in which employers could advertise job openings. Newspapers also served as forums for individuals to vent their frustrations about life in what they called La Merica that to many was proving less rosy than they had anticipated.
Laurence W. Mazzeno
See also: Ethnic enclaves; German American press; Immigration waves; Italian immigrants; Labor unions; Little Italies; Spanish-language press.