News-Journal lays off 28, snuffs Spark

20130826-News-Journal

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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