Turning seed corn into junk food

This will probably be my last post until after Christmas. But I wanted to note that the Standard-Times of New Bedford will erect a pay wall around its Web site starting Jan. 12.

As Jon Chesto of the Patriot Ledger notes, it’s not entirely unanticipated, since the Standard-Times’ owner is Rupert Murdoch, who has launched a crusade against free content. Murdoch’s man in New Bedford is Boston Herald owner Pat Purcell, who says he’ll unveil his own paid-content system sometime next year as well.

Though I think pay walls are a bad idea, the Standard-Times’ system is better than some: you’ll be able to read up to 10 stories a month without paying, which means the paper won’t be completely closing itself off to the outside blogosphere.

Still, it’s hard to imagine that the Standard-Times’ fine Web site, South Coast Today, won’t deteriorate under the new system. It’s a shame, because the paper’s original Web site, http://www.s-t.com, was a pioneering effort that garnered national attention back in the mid-1990s.

The print edition may well realize some short-term gains — no longer will local readers be able to catch up on news in Southeastern Massachusett for free. But Murdoch and Purcell are turning their seed corn into Fritos.

Photo (cc) by Daniel R. Blume and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.