Newspaper Reporting of the May 1993 Florence Bomb

March 1995 (VOL. 13, NO. 1)

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On 27 May 1993 a powerful bomb exploded in the center of Florence, Italy, killing five people and doing severe damage to art and architectural treasures, including the Uffizi Gallery and Accademia dei Georgofili. It was the first disaster since the floods of 1966 simultaneously to cause victims and damage the city’s cultural heritage. In this study local and international newspaper coverage of the bomb outrage is analyzed and compared with reporting on the 1966 floods. Once again, questions of artistic damage and the safety of tourists occupies the foreign papers while human interests dominated the Florentine ones indeed, the English and American newspapers treated the damaged art treasures were almost as if they were human causalities. But since 1966 (and the collapse of the Eastern Bloc) Western news reporting had become depoliticized and dominated by new contexts, such as the pre-eminence of commercialism and, in the case of Italy, the struggle against the mafia. It is concluded that the nature and extent of newspaper coverage of the bomb outrage was determined, not by objective or moral assessments of newsworthiness, but by a mixture of ad hoc considerations and snap assessments of what the readership wanted to learn about.