NJ's oldest newspaper turns off presses

ELIZABETH, N.J. -- The Daily Journal, New Jersey's oldest newspaper, published its last issue Friday when its owner failed to find a buyer for the 212-year-old daily.

The closing affects 96 full- and part-time staff members. A dozen are being transferred to other newspapers owned by North Jersey Newspapers Co., publisher Richard Vezza said.


Reporters and other employees cleaned out their desks Friday morning in a mood described as somber, not bitter.

'It's just depressing, that's all,' said Kimberly Bradley, a receptionist who worked at the Journal for three years. She was one of a dozen or so employees ordered to stay on the job to tie up loose ends before the doors were closed at 5 p.m.

For the company, the Journal's shutdown was the second time in a year that one of its newspapers folded. The Hudson Dispatch was closed last April and its assets sold to its competitor, the Jersey Journal.

A slide in advertising revenues exacerbated by the nation's protracted recession finally did in the Journal, Vezza said.

'We've operated it at a loss for two years in hopes that something would turn around, and we've reduced our expenses as much as we could,' Vezza said, declining to reveal the size of the Journal's deficit. 'It got to the point where we felt we prudently couldn't operate it any longer.'


Vezza announced Nov. 1 that the 30,000-circulation Journal, which published Monday through Saturday, would be closed in 60 days if no buyer could be found.

Rudder Publishing Co. of Daytona Beach, Florida, was the only prospective buyer to make an offer, but the deal failed to pan out, Vezza said.

Another casualty of the Journal's closing is the city of Elizabeth and surrounding Union County, now left without a local newspaper. North Jersey Newspapers plans to include coverage of the area in its neighboring weekly, Suburban News, said Vezza, who is also chief executive officer of the company.

North Jersey Newspapers still operates 13 weeklies and one daily, The Herald and News in Passaic.

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