"We don't need the Denver Post," says Colorado Pols' Jason Bane
"If that were true, it would mean you'd have a better chance of getting hit by lightning than getting a link-through to the Denver Post," he maintains. "We had close to 700,000 page views in April, and they're saying five or six people clicked on one of their links? That just doesn't make sense. We don't have the numbers, because we don't track outgoing links; the software to do that is really expensive. But the average banner ad click-through rate is, I think, something like 2 to 3 percent. A link isn't a banner ad, but no traffic at all just isn't plausible."
A screen-shot of the Denver Post on Thursday afternoon.
Whatever the case, Beall says the letter had the desired effect, with Colorado Pols ceasing to use big chunks of articles from the papers he represents. He thought the matter was closed until yesterday, when the site published the item linked above in what he suspects was "some kind of fit of anger."
Bane sees this last statement as ridiculous: "To say we did this in a fit of anger: Look, we didn't send the letter, we didn't call the attorney. They're the ones who are overreacting."
Why the gap between the late May arrival of the letter and the July 7 item? Among other things, Bane says it took the Pols crew a while to find an attorney, Holland & Hart's Ian O'Neill, who'd represent them pro bono. O'Neill recommended that Colorado Pols stop using the Post or any of the other newspapers as they worked toward developing a strategy -- a decision that led to an unexpected discovery.
"We haven't linked to the Post in six weeks and nobody even noticed," he says. "Nobody mentioned it online. And that bears out what we're saying. It's not like the Denver Post is the only news outlet reporting that Dan Maes beat Scott McInnis at the state assembly. It's not secret information."
In Bane's view, traditional newspapers "have two ways to go. They can do what the Post is doing, or they can embrace the idea of the Internet, and understand the 'inter' part of that word by connecting to other sites."
Problem is, "a lot of older organizations don't understand that it's not just about direct traffic. The number of organizations linking through is one way Google understands a site is relevant. That's something the majority of news organizations understand. But I guess the Post is the exception.
"The Denver Post and these other outlets think they're so valuable that websites like Colorado Pols have to link to them, have to use their content. But there are so many outlets out there, and so many people out there discussing the same things. Which isn't to say they don't provide value. But it doesn't mean anything to the future of Colorado Pols to not use their content."
With that in mind, Bane sees the letter less as an attempt to address a legitimate issue as "a realization of their irrelevance."