The Denver Newspaper Agency, the company that owns the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News, has announced that it will reduce its dependence on so-called "sponsored subscriptions." Such subscriptions involve the delivery of papers to readers who have neither paid nor requested them. Typically, they're delivered to more affluent neighborhoods and are spun as being brought to readers, or "sponsored," by a large advertiser.
The decision will reduce total paid circulation for both papers. The category that includes third-party subscriptions accounted for 34,569 of The Post's 255,935 paid circulation as of Sept. 30, according to the most recent data from the Audit Bureau of Circulation. Such papers accounted for 24,084 of the News' 255,675 paid circulation. On Sunday, those subscriptions represented 117,923 of the two papers' combined circulation of 694,053. Scaling back the use of third-party programs will reduce the two papers' combined total audience, which includes print and online readers, by about 1 percent, according to Jim Nolan, an agency spokesman. "We expect our total audience to be largely unaffected," said Nolan. "This will have a minimal impact."Hold on. Using the Sunday numbers as an example, isn't 117,923 a whole lot more than 1 percent of 694,053? More like 17 percent? Indeed it is, but note Nolan's careful use of the words "circulation" and "audience." "Circulation" refers to the total number of newspapers printed and distributed (and is the number traditionally used when setting those all-important advertising rates). "Audience" refers to the number of people who actually read those newspapers. So what the DNA is really admitting is that while the Post and News have been throwing these unwanted copies on people's lawns for years, almost no one was actually reading them. Glad we finally have that out in the open.