Reinaldo Ferreira (Repórter X)
“The greatest reporter in the Portuguese press”, as he was classified. With drama, tragedy, grace and terror, Reinaldo Ferreira adapts and changes facts and real events so that his stories are the most interesting having, for that, earned the nickname “the journalism’s free shooter” or “the fact creator”.
“Have you ever covered fires?”. At the newsroom of A Capital, Garibaldi Falcão, an old school journalist, asked a young apprentice, aged 16 or 17.
Misinterpreting the question, and thinking to be taken by a pyromaniac, Reinaldo Ferreira answered with an angry tone “No, Sir!”. This was the first story of the future Repórter X: an arson in the Lisbon Street of Estefânia.
Reinaldo Ferreira, who would come to be known as Repórter X, was born on August 10th of 1897, in Lisbon. He was a Portuguese reporter, journalist, playwright and the movie director. His journalistic career started at 12 years old.
Anabela Natário, a journalist from Expresso, wrote on October 3rd of 2015:
“Conspiracies, assassinations, thefts, frauds, remarkable, intimacies and… audiences. A man dominated this universe like nobody. He if was living he would have found the electoral fraud before it was too late. Many invented, many still do it, but Repórter X had a special technique, that even with truth he makes think that there is a lie”.
During his adolescence it was constant the reading of detective and espionage journals, thus, he got bored with the routine of “everyday cases”. And since reality denied him pounding matters, to make up was only what he had left. Still today will be difficult to determine all his “reinaldices”, to use the expression used by those who came to unmask his farces.
He, perhaps aware that that drive to mix facts and fictions was, after all, the distinctive signal of his peculiar genius, answered with a neologism of his own authorship: “reporterxizar”.
THE START OF “REINALDICES”
In 1917, aged 19, he chills the people of Lisbon with the crime, so tenebrous as inexistent, of the Street Rua Saraiva de Carvalho, that included masked evildoers, a presumable corpse and a villain, suitably called as “the crossed-eye man”.
The story came to light in O Século, in the form of letters sent “by a stranger” that signed as Gil Goes. The story reached such proportions that the newspaper found prudent to reveal the scam.
Few months after closing Gil Goes’ adventures, Reinaldo Ferreira published in A Manhã, in March of 1918, “Inquérito à Mendicidade” [Survey to begging]. He was photographed poorly shaved and ragged, with is hand stretched, and the public was convinced that the reporter became a beggar. But, with exception to the portrait, it was all made up, including the 47 cents that this incursion in indigence had earned him.
In this same year, he charges back in O Século with the supposed murder of a foreigner, perpetrated by her husband in a pension in Lisbon. This time, aided by Stuart de Carvalhais, he goes to the point of putting the room of the pension upside down, spreading chicken blood through the chamber.
To close the year of 1918, he “gathers” the last words of the president Sidónio Pais, murdered in Rossio Station: “I died, but the Nation is saved”. The truth is that he didn’t witnessed the event and, as it seems, the president fell without time to say anything.
Reinaldo "reporterxiza" abroad
In 1920, Reinaldo Ferreira goes to Paris, at the service of the French subsidiary of Agência American (a news agency), but only for a short period of time. In 1921, already married and with two children, he moves to Barcelona.
With the rise to power of Primo de Rivera in Spain, the journalist returns to Portugal, but not before sending a chronicler to the Lisbon press, attacking the dictator.
He signs the article with his own name, but a friend makes him realize that he could suffer retaliation and, prudently, Reinaldo writes above “Reporter”. However, for one of those chances in life, the typographer that receives the piece sees an “X” in what was nothing more than the final scribble of the poorly hidden signature. Thus, Reporter X was born.
Already employed at ABC magazine, he is sent to Russia, in 1925, to follow the fight triggered after Lenine’s death. From Paris, where he would have tried morphine for the first time, Reinaldo informs that is was difficult to obtain a visa, but keeps on sending work, namely a forged interview to Conan Doyle, the writer of Sherlock Holmes’ stories.
Finally , chronicles from Moscow start to arrive, where the journalist keeps on finding Portuguese, from the Kremlin’s doorman to the man who embalmed Lenine. It is believed that the reporter never set foot in Russia and limited himself to stay in Paris, waiting for Henri Béraud’s articles, who had been sent there by Le Journal.
In 1926, he is back in Portugal, settling in Oporto and writing simultaneously to ABC magazine and to O Primeiro de Janeiro. It is in March of that year that happens in Lisbon the famous murder of the actress Maria Alves, strangled in a taxi and thrown dead into a gutter.
Based on similar previous crimes and in the plot of a Spanish novel, Reinaldo suggests to newspapers that the guilty is the victim’s former agent, Augusto Gomes. This time, he was right.
REPORTER X IN THE DEATH OF MARIA ALVES
Near the sawmilling of the factory of Portugal, the body is laid on its stomach. One feet is barefoot. Raimundo José dos Santos, an electrician at Salão Foz, returns home by 2h20 AM, and, in Francisco Foreiro Street, parallel to Almirante Reis, finds the first shoe and then, sights the body.
There is something in the arms’ position, grotesquely bent, and in the misaligned clothes that force “this tall and strong man” to get near. He looks around. The movement in the street has stopped. His heart freezes and he sees the dark blood that soaks the garçonne cutted hair. Without identifying it, Raimundo has found the lifeless body of Maria Alves, actress at Parque Mayer. Now what?
He rushes down the street. He doesn’t want to be considered guilty but he can’t leave the victim there. He takes with him the shoe without knowing why. Finds at last the officer 2035 of Arroios stations. It is him who sounds the alarm.
The news travels fast. In a superhuman effort, the morning newspaper insert in the editions of March 31st short news, with the available details. Only in the following morning the victim’s identity is found.
Reinaldo, the famous Repórter X, functions in a different way. He conjectures, deduces and, incredibly, at least in this case he hits spot-on, right in his initial chronicle, published in O Primeiro de Janeiro, of April 1st.
While Lisbon police launches the thesis of an occasional robbery and a strangulation, Reinalto interprets his observation in first hand. It weights what he knows of Maria Alves, the girl that was a success at Águia de Ouro (a café and later a movie theatre in Oporto).
He reveals the facts to the readers of the Oporto daily newspaper. In the night of the crime, Maria Alves dined with her manager and lover, Augusto Gomes, at Parque Mayer. They argued over the debt of a friend of Gomes. He, to calm the beast in which the actress transformed herself when discussing honorariums, paid the friend’s debt. He said goodbye to her at the entrance of the street car, the last of the evening that went to Arroios. He never saw her again.
Reinaldo ended theatrically the chronicle: “It is late. I haven’t had time to find the respect. But there is a suspicion in my spirit. It is serious… so serious that I don’t reveal it. I only ask on thing: read El Mistério del Kursall, by José Francés. It is a novel about a crime – a crime where the victim is a star. And reading that book, and seeing who the criminal is, you will know over whom my suspicions fall...”.
Two weeks ahead, Reinaldo leaved clues about the suspect’s identity. In El Mistério del Kursall, it is the star’s lover and manager who kills her. In Maria Alves’ drama, that would be her fate.
The duel between Lisbon’s morning papers had started. O Século had merit in not accepting the simplistic explanation of the chief of police. On April 1st it proposes, with a suggestive photography taken at the crime scene, that “the unfortunate girl wasn’t killed in the place where the body was found”.
The statements assembled by the newspaper allow it to state that Maria Alves’ unusual body position and the shoe and hat’s displacement resulted not from an attack in that place, but from a push through an automobile’s hatch.
Diário de Notícias attacks “the newspaper that don’t have the right to disdain the police’s action” and concludes, on April 5th, “that it wasn’t possible to use the possibility of Maria having been suffocated or strangled”. On the other hand, Diário de Lisboa complains about the “inherent gossip character” of reporters and newspapers.
Reinaldo Ferreira sends to ABC magazine, the weekly published on Thursdays, the night photography of some man rapidly closing a taxi’s hatch, leaving a shadow on the road.
AUGUSTO GOMES CONFESSES… AND THE MOTTO WAS GIVEN BY REPÓRTER X
“This man knows it all! This man was watching me!”, would have been Augusto Gomes’ words after reading what Reinaldo Ferreira had wrote in ABC magazine.
Reinaldo spent a month conjecturing over Augusto Gomes’ guilt and blaming him for the death of the actress Maria Alves. Considered a suspect, Augusto Gomes is arrested at Limoeiro jail.
In the beginning of May of 1926, Augusto wrote him. Asked him to visit at Limoeiro. “Even to the ones sentenced to death it is given assistance”. Four five hours, Reinaldo interviewed Augusto. He noted his “thick hands, with short thumbs, large in their tips – choker hands”.
He wrote down the confession: “I don’t regret killing her. She fooled me. I had the right to kill her… If she had a hundred lives, I would take them a hundred times. I only regret abandoning her in the street”.
IN THE END, IT’S REINALDO FERREIRA’S, REPÓRTER X, STAGE
In a remark published in O Primeiro de Janeiro, on April 15th of 1926, Reinaldo wrote a chronicle, naturally proud of his “discovery”, but critic about the ease with which policemen and journalist in Lisbon believed in the extravagant thesis of “unknown gravateiros”.
“The police laughed at me. My colleague accused me of being a slanderer. They knew Augusto Gomes. I didn’t”.
It was 1935 when Reinaldo Ferreira precociously died at the age of 38, after a period of dependence of morphine.
For posterity remained his stories that made history. Also in cinema, Reinaldo built a career. Repórter X Film was the name of the company he founded, thanks to the financing of the merchant Joaquim Alves Barbosa. He produced films and documentaries among which stand out Táxi Nº9297, inspired in the death of Maria Alves, and Rita ou Rito?.