Saturday, September 5, 2015

News-Journal lays off 28, snuffs Spark

Gannett's Delaware daily cuts back

News-Journal lays off 28, snuffs Spark


The Wilmington, Del. News-Journal says it is firing 28 staff and closing its Spark bars-and- bands free weekly paper and its 10x/yearly magazine, Signature Brandywine. Owner Gannett Inc. made similar cuts awhile back at its Cherry Hill, N.J. Courier-Post across the river.

I'm afraid I'll miss Spark, a little. It's been a guilty pleasure since I began picking it up at the Wilmington Amtrak station on my weekly commute to New York six years ago, then at the Claymont Septa station when I went back to work at the Inquirer.

Edited initially by Matt Sullivan, who wrote a funny and thoughtful column and flip reviews of "movies he hasn't seen," his tiny staff spotlighted local bands, bars, cheap ethnic restaurants and fancy sandwich joints; posted pages of pictures of half-drunk laughing people (sometimes kids we knew) in the bars of Trolley Square and Dewey Beach; and read like it was written by and for people in their 20s, who kind of wished they were still at the University of Delaware instead of struggling with building a career amid mass corporate layoffs at the state's major employers, and other sour prospects.

There were also summaries of the most interesting Delaware news stories of the week -- being Delaware, these were short summaries -- for people who couldn't be bothered to breach the News-Journal's paywall. And alcohol reviews, and Fantasy Football reports in season... They gave it away; but young people would rather check for music (and drinking) news via smartphones. Closing time.

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PhillyDeals posts drafts, transcripts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area business, which he's been writing since 1989.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn and taught writing at St. Joseph's. He has written thousands of columns and articles for the Inquirer, Bloomberg and other media, wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at,, 215.854.5194 or 302.652.2004.

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