The Denver Post isn't exactly known for writing about itself in hard-hitting fashion: Note its coverage of the bankruptcy filing by parent firm MediaNews Group's holding company, which attempted to bury the word "bankruptcy."
As such, it's not especially surprising that the same quote that leads the Post article is drawn directly from the company's press release.
Not that the line attributed to Post senior vice president of circulation Bill Reynolds -- "A year ago, people said we would be lucky to retain 50 percent of Rocky Mountain News subscribers" -- is inaccurate. Indeed, I'm among the folks who suggested that publisher and MediaNews boss Dean Singleton's goal of getting 80 percent of Rocky subscribers to commit to the Post represented pie in the sky.
Today, I'm dining on an 82 percent slice.
The Post's press release notes that hanging onto such an overwhelming majority of Rocky after a year is unprecedented by noting the following: "The Houston Chronicle retained only 37 percent of the Houston Post's Sunday subscribers a year after the Post closed, and the Dallas Morning News retained 43 percent of the Dallas Times Herald's Sunday subscribers a year after it closed."
Turns out the accomplishment is even more impressive when looked at from a big-picture perspective rather than focusing on Sunday alone. Here are figures from "Five Rocky Stars Who Could Be Going Up," a sidebar to a 2008 Westword feature about the Rocky's impending closure: "The Houston Chronicle set the modern standard, increasing its circulation 32 percent in the six months after the rival Houston Post closed. The Dallas Morning News didn't fare as well, getting a 25 percent boost after the Dallas Times-Herald faltered -- and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch grew only 16 percent upon the 1986 demise of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat."
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The Post's achievement is all the more remarkable given the current decline in circulation for daily newspapers across the board -- 8.7 percent in just a year. By comparison, the Post's circulation is down 2.1 percent Monday through Friday, 5.1 percent on Saturday and 1.7 percent on Sunday.
While these numbers are healthy compared to the performances of papers in other markets (like the San Francisco Chronicle, whose daily circulation tumbled 22.7 percent), such declines can't be sustained indefinitely. But that's an argument for another time. Today, the Post deserves to celebrate, even if it's with a canned quote doing double duty.
Here's the entire release:
Denver Post retains 82% of Rocky subscribers a year later
New Denver Post print and digital audience numbers dominate the market
DENVER (April 26, 2010) -- One year after the Rocky Mountain News ceased operations, The Denver Post has retained 82 percent of former Rocky subscribers and continues to dominate all media in the market in audience reach, according to a detailed analysis of the latest circulation figures filed by The Post.
"A year ago, people said we would be lucky to retain 50 percent of Rocky Mountain News subscribers," said Bill Reynolds, Denver Post Senior Vice President of Circulation. "But our publisher, Dean Singleton, predicted we would keep 80 percent of those subscribers and he was right. Today, 82 percent of former Rocky subscribers get The Denver Post, and thousands of new readers have embraced our online, mobile and social media platforms to get their news and information."
Other major newspapers have not been so effective in retaining their competition's subscribers after a paper closed. According to an analysis of ABC Publisher's Statements, The Houston Chronicle retained only 37 percent of the Houston Post's Sunday subscribers a year after the Post closed, and the Dallas Morning News retained 43 percent of the Dallas Times Herald's Sunday subscribers a year after it closed.
"The large percentage of Rocky readers that now subscribe to The Denver Post clearly demonstrates what a great newspaper market Denver is," said Bill Reynolds. "When we were a two-newspaper town our market had one of the highest levels of household penetration in the nation and that hasn't changed."
The Denver Post filed its annual March Publisher's Statement with the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), the industry's official monitor of newspaper circulation in the United States. The first Denver Post-only full reporting period was in September 2009. In March of 2009, The Denver Post filed a one-month circulation report due to the closure of the Rocky Mountain News on February 28, 2009.
Circulation for the six months ending March 2010 for the Sunday Denver Post was reported at 486,964, circulation for The Saturday Post was 389,334, and Monday through Friday circulation was 333,676. Compared to the Sept. 2009 ABC circulation report, the new circulation numbers show slight declines, much of which can be attributed to a pullback of statewide distribution and the elimination of joint distribution agreements with other Colorado newspapers.
Since September, Sunday Denver Post circulation declined by 1.7 percent, Saturday circulation declined by 5.1 percent, and the daily Post declined by 2.1 percent. During the same time period, users of The Post's digital sites have increased 19 to 82 percent.
"We offer our news, information and advertising on many different platforms to fit the lifestyles of our readers," said Denver Post President and Chief Executive Officer Jerry Grilly. "From online and mobile to the latest social media sites, our digital audience continues to expand at record-setting levels and deliver outstanding results to our advertisers."
DenverPost.com continues to be Colorado's most-visited web site. According to Omniture, in March of 2010 DenverPost.com had five million unique visitors who accessed more than 32 million pages. Over the past six months (Oct. 2009 - March 2010) DenverPost.com has averaged 5 million unique visitors each month, a 15 percent increase in traffic when compared to the previous six month average (April - Sept. 2009). The network of all sites owned by The Post, which includes DailyCamera.com and BroomfieldEnterprise.com, had nearly six million unique visitors accessing 37 million pages in March, according to Omniture.
The Post also dominates the growing social media marketplace. Currently, The Post has more than 159,000 followers on Twitter, an 82-percent increase in just two months since February 2010. Fans of The Denver Post Facebook pages have increased 71 percent since February to over 20,000. The Denver Post now has more Facebook fans and Twitter followers than any local media competitor, including 9News, The Denver Channel, KDVRFOX31, CBS4Denver and Westword.
Growth of The Denver Post mobile web site is also increasing rapidly as more people use smart phones and other devices to access news and advertising information on the web. During the same six-month period as the March Publisher's Statement (Oct. 2009 to March 2010), page views of m.denverpost.com have increased 19 percent. In March 2010, m.denverpost.com had 1.7 million page views, an increase of 277,000 compared to Oct. 2009. The Post's print audience continues to dominate all other media in Colorado. According to the most-recent Denver Scarborough Report, 1,123,190 adults read The Sunday Post and 752,570 read the daily Post. The Post's daily readership is more than double the largest 10 p.m. television newscast audience, and much higher than all Denver area radio stations' morning drive-time audiences combined. See the attached chart for comparisons.
The full March 2010 Denver Post Publisher's Statement will be released by ABC by the end of May.
Sources: 2009 Denver Scarborough Report, Denver DMA geography; April 2009 - March 2010 Omniture. Denver Post web site network includes Prairie Mountain Publishing sites; DenverPost.com includes DenverPost.com/classifieds and YourHub.com.