Why Warren Buffett is bullish on newspapers

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett says of his recent acquisition of Media General newspapers: “It’s not a soft-headed business decision. It’s not going to move the needle at Berkshire Hathaway. If it were the widget business, I wouldn’t do it. The kind of earnings we’ll draw from our newspaper properties will be a very tiny fraction of, say, Burlington Railroad. But it’s not a dumb decision financially.”

Buffett tells Howard Kurtz that he doesn’t have any interest in the Los Angeles Times or Chicago Tribune. “I don’t know exactly what you would do with the Tribune Company,” he says. “It’s really hard in L.A. to have a sense of community. They probably don’t care that much about the city council, and don’t live in the same parish their parents did. They’re not as interested in high school basketball.”

More from Buffett:

* “This three-day-a-week [print publishing schedule] really kills you. You want people who look at you every day. Once people get used to online, I don’t think they come back.”

* “I don’t believe in running [newspapers] at a permanent loss. I can’t do that with the shareholders’ money.”

* “I think it’s crazy to shrink the news hole. You’re selling information.”

* “I will not be running these [Media General] papers. I won’t know the names of the editors at the smaller ones.”

* Buffett still buys newspapers as the industry sinks (The Daily Beast)

RELATED STORIES:
* Cutting newspaper print publication schedules is like having TV networks go dark on nights when they don’t sell many ads. (New York Times)
* David Warsh: Publishers should be leery of Web-bedizened voices trying to shut down print. (Economic Principals)
* Times-Picayune staff-reduction meetings that were scheduled for Monday and Tuesday have been postponed. (Gambit)
* Why AnnArbor.com is the wrong model for the Times-Picayune. (Ann Arbor Chronicle)

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