Is the Denver Post's circulation really holding steady?

In a Monday Q&A, Dean Singleton, the CEO of MediaNews Group and de facto owner of the Denver Post, insisted that the Post is retaining 95 percent of former Rocky Mountain News subscribers -- and he added that the paper isn't suffering the 5-15 percent declines striking most other major metro dailies these days. But these assertions don't jibe with what I've been seeing in my neighborhood: Ken-Caryl Ranch, in unincorporated Jefferson County.

Not so long ago, the vast majority of homes near mine received the paper, but that doesn't seem to be the case anymore -- and this morning, after I saw my carrier drop the Post on my driveway at about 5:10 a.m., I decided to do an impromptu survey of the area to get an accurate total. After jogging around my cul de sac and up the block that leads out of my subdivision, probably triggering several concerned calls to the police in the process, I discovered that of the 24 homes I passed, only six of them, including mine, take the Post.

Obviously, this information is anecdotal and unscientific -- but it shouldn't be discounted. The Post needs to hang on to its current delivery customers. Indeed, the impending move to lock up most local content behind a paid wall on the web is in part a strategy to prevent current subscribers from canceling and getting the same news online for free, as Singleton acknowledged in the aforementioned interview. If only a quarter of the people in my immediate vicinity are getting the paper now, this approach had better work. Because future deterioration will make it that much more difficult to keep the paper vibrant and, hopefully, profitable.

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