Davide Casati ’14 M.A. Business
The first time I heard about Nunzio Scarano I was working at Corriere della Sera, Italy’s most widely read newspaper. The details of the Monsignor’s arrest were striking. A top accountant at the Vatican, arrested for trying to repatriate $26 million via a private plane, with the help of a secret service agent and a financial broker – it all looked like a Dan Brown book. That story haunted me. When I arrived at Columbia, I started reading everything I could find about it, and about the Vatican financial system. I collected data, underlined discrepancies, and contacted the journalists who wrote those stories. I made a list of all the sources quoted in the articles, and I started planning interviews with them. Most of them wanted to talk to me in person, which meant I had to pack my schedule for the Winter break.
I still had two major problems to solve: I needed to find an angle, and to convince sources to tell me something that had not been told already. I was constantly encouraged by my seminar professors, empowered by the classes I was taking -- from investigative journalism to accounting -- and helped by my amazing master’s colleagues, especially my business group friends. Their support and suggestions throughout the year have been invaluable: I’ve always felt as if I was in a newsroom, surrounded by incredibly talented and generous people.
The turning point was the day Scarano’s lawyer told me that the Monsignor was willing to talk to me in his Salerno apartment, the one where he was living under house arrest. I wrote to Professor James Stewart telling him about the development, and he immediately shot back an enthusiastic e-mail, with some useful advice for navigating the interview. Once out of the Monsignor’s home, I felt like my job had just started.
The process of writing the story was challenging and I thank Professor Stewart for his help in structuring the piece, and all the people who have read and edited my drafts so many times that they knew the story by heart. The process of getting the story published was even more challenging. I had to resize the piece, reshape it, and go again through every detail, with more reporting. I worked with The Times’s Sunday Business editor, who helped me keep the story in focus, and not fall too much in love with some aspects of the piece that seemed great to me, but would have confused the readers.