The meta-xylylene diradical m-C 8 H 8 is a prototypical organic triplet that represents a building block for organic molecule-based magnets and also serves as a model compound for test and refinement of quantum chemical calculations. Flash vacuum pyrolysis of 1,3-bis-iodomethyl-benzene (m-C 8 H 8 I 2 ) produces m-C 8 H 8 in gas phase; we used photoelectron spectroscopy to probe the first two electronic states of the radical cation, and resolve the vibrational fine structure of the ground state band. The determined adiabatic ionization energy of m-C 8 H 8 is (7.27 ± 0.01) eV. Heat of formation of the diradical was established measuring C-I bond dissociation thresholds in the precursor cation and utilizing a thermochemical cycle to yield ΔH f,298K = (325 ± 8) kJ mol -1 , ca. 10 kJ mol -1 below the previous value.