Buh-bye, ProJo. And take your ugly teaseware with you.

We're talking Ark of the Covenant ugly
Feast your eyes, glut your soul upon my accursed ugliness! (1)

Rhode Island's newspaper of record has announced plans to vanish into the black hole of a paywall, leaving behind a hideous, malformed shadow of news lingering at the event horizon.

The free site, ProvidenceJournal.com, is a catalog of things not to do in news 2.0: enormous adware, a center column width that defies logic and best practices (MORE ROOM FOR ADS!), an apparent inability to use bulleted lists, automatic reload scripts to boost their page views, and no interaction beyond commenting and uploading photos (that is, providing free content to a newspaper that charges you for theirs. Nice, huh?)

You can't read their e-Edition without offering up your e-mail address for their spambots, and the interface is a painful Flash-driven clickfest.

This make three redesigns in the past week, and while one of them, EastBayRI.com got it exactly right, ProJo joins the Newport Daily News in showing their cluelessness about the digital.

What's their strategy? In a front-page story, publisher Howard Sutton said, "The Journal is moving to the paid eEdition to protect the investment it makes every day in gathering and publishing Rhode Island news."

And here's my ultimate bone to pick with those who seek to prop up old business models: they are *business* models, not ways of serving the information and connection needs of the community. Look at everything EastBayRI or Patch get right. Now look at the ProJo.

Or, rather, don't look at the ProJo. Unless you're willing to pay.


(1) Lon Chaney, Phantom of the Opera, Universal, 1925.

Full disclosure: As a citizen journalist, I obviously have a significant axe to grind. And I'm a-grindin' it.