New Orleans musician Evan Christopher told Warren Buffett in a May 25 open letter that “I know you share the world’s admiration for our city’s strong sense of community, and I am hoping that you already have your eye on this situation,” with the Times-Picayune only publishing a print edition three days a week.
“Berkshire Hathaway’s acquisition of several print newspapers under Media General’s umbrella brought you to my mind as the ideal person to approach about helping prevent this disgraceful embarrassment.”
Buffett has responded to Christopher’s letter:
Naturally I’ve been following the Times-Pic situation with interest. I don’t know any of the facts on their profitability but was really surprised when they made the announcement. It seems to me that three days a week is simply unsustainable over the longer term. Either a publication is a newspaper or a periodical and I think three days a week crosses the line.
New Orleans seems to me to be a very strongly defined community and I believe the Times-Pic has high penetration. Therefore, I’m puzzled as to why the economics don’t work on a seven-day basis. But I would have to have the detailed figures to make an analysis.
The one thing I’m quite sure of: It would not work to start a competing paper. I have no insight as to whether the Newhouse family would sell the Times-Pic to a local group. They do not have a history of selling anything. That’s something a member of the community should explore. Let me know if you learn more.
Warren Buffett (non-musician)