Warren Buffett Seeks to Reinvent Print Media

Warren Buffett recently sent out a letter to Berkshire Hathaway’s most recently acquired employees from the purchase of Berkshire’s 63 new newspapers.

Buffett’s new media empire was first reported last Friday, as Media General looks to unload most of its newspaper operations on Berkshire.

The sale included newspapers such as the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Virginia), the Winston-Salem Journal (North Carolina) and the Morning News of Florence (South Carolina).

In the letter, Buffett informs Berkshire employees and editors that they need to start rethinking the industry.  He also criticized the initial role of newspapers online.

“The original instinct of newspapers then was to offer free in digital form what they were charging for in print. This is an unsustainable model and certain of our papers are already making progress in moving to something that makes more sense.”

Buffett stated the reason specific newspapers were selected for purchase was because they were seen as exceptionally important to their communities and that Berkshire wanted to keep a very strong “local” element in their news empire.

Buffett has said that only the newspapers that deliver the most local, exclusive content will be able to thrive in the future.

“Berkshire will probably purchase more papers in the next few years. We will favor towns and cities with a strong sense of community, comparable to the 26 in which we will soon operate. If a citizenry cares little about its community, it will eventually care little about its newspaper.”

Buffett also tried to smooth over any concerns employees might have with Berkshire’s sudden buy-out of the newspapers. He reassured them that “Berkshire buys for keeps.”

Buffett said he personally loves the daily newspapers. “I read five newspapers daily. Call me an addict.”

Buffett announced that Berkshire would most likely be purchasing more newspapers in the coming years.

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