Behind Bars:
The alcohol industry in Newark, Delaware

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Behind Bars (Student Documentary, 2004) from UD Department of Communication hosted by UD Capture

A television news documentary project by the undergraduate students of the Communication and Political Science Departments of the University of Delaware

Premiered: Thursday, May 20, 2004

Students of COMM/POSC 425 proudly present their broadcast news investigation into the scope and nature of the alcohol industry along the Main Street of a small college town. The student documentarians explore the industry from the brewery to the wholesaler, from distributor to the Main Street establishments where thousands of students consume thousands of cases of beer and other alcoholic beverages each year. They meet an ?A? student with two distinct personalities, connected to the drinking establishments. They discover contradictions among lawmakers at the state and local level, and among regulations which govern how, where, and how much alcohol is sold. They speak with industry representatives, restaurant and bar operators, alcohol enforcement agents, bartenders, lawmakers and students.

A production of the following UD students in Communication, Political Science and Journalism:

Kristen Bartolomeo
Jennifer Burch
Erin Burke
Erin Fogg
Erin Gould
Jonathan Graham
Kaitlin Hoffman
Samara Passo
Amanda Ponko
Lisa Salvatore
Elizabeth Thompson
Melissa Zangoglia

Under the guidance of UD Rosenberg Professor of Communication and Distinguished Journalist in Residence Ralph Begleiter

Produced at the University of Delaware, Spring 2004

Selected highlights reported by the students in this program:

  • Bartenders in Newark can earn as much as $200/night, $1000/week
  • Bar owners and Newark city officials agree alcohol enforcement is inadequate; the Delaware state legislature is considering reducing alcohol enforcement in Newark
  • Enforcement agents believe they are doing the best they can
  • One small regional brewery sells 12-million bottles of beer annually to a state with a population of about 800,000, and says Newark accounts for 14% of its sales volume
  • Alcohol distributors say they provide free games and promotional items to retailers to encourage patrons, including students, to spend more time in bars
  • Most of the alcohol advertising within walking distance of the University of Delaware appeals to a student body in which 2/3 of the prospective customers are legally ineligible to purchase alcohol
  • Distributors say 50% of all beer sold is consumed by customers between the age of 21 and 28
  • The number of bars within walking distance of the University of Delaware has actually increased 40% since the university and the city of Newark began an alcohol control campaign under a major national grant in 1996
  • Despite city regulations outlawing alcohol price “specials” in Newark, the most popular bars have “special” low prices on drinks virtually every day of the week


  • First Place in the TV category of the Communications Competition of the Delaware Press Association (Spring, 2005)
  • Second Place award in the category of "In-Depth TV Reporting" in the Mid-Atlantic Region "Mark of Excellence" competition of the Society of Professional Journalists (Spring, 2005)
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Behind Bars