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Warren Buffett Says Only 2-3 Newspapers Will Survive

Sunday, March 05, 2017

 

Warren Buffett

In a sweeping interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway said that while he owns 31 newspapers, he believes only two or maybe three will continue to operate.

The most celebrated American investor said, “…there are only two papers in the United States that I think have an assured future because they have a successful internet model to go with their print model, and that's The Journal and The New York Times. And I'm not saying it'll even be easy for them,” said Buffett. He also mentioned that the Washington Post could also survive. 

Read Becky Quick’s question and Buffett’s response below or watch the full interview. 

Quick: It's a business that has changed rapidly. And it reminds me of another business you're invested in, newspapers. Newspaper, the publisher used to be the king of the town as well. What's happened to newspapers?

Buffett: Newspapers have -- there are only two papers in the United States that I think have an assured future because they have a successful internet model to go with their print model, and that's The Journal and The New York Times. And I'm not saying it'll even be easy for them. But they have developed -- an online presence that people will pay for. Now, the third that may do it, again going back to Bezos, is The Washington Post. And he's improved dramatically their situation online. And so it's conceivable that their math works. But if you look at -- there's 1,300 daily papers left in the United States. We've got 31 of 'em. There were 1,700 or 1,800 not that many years ago.

And it was an incredible business when you were first in everything. I mean, you could tell people how their stocks closed. I learned how my stocks closed by looking in the paper. I learned who won football games or what the box scores was in baseball. I learned all kinds of things from the paper first. And now, you've got-- you know, you've got an internet. And -- aside from the ones I've mentioned, 1,400 -- 1,300 or 1,400 papers haven't learned-- haven't figured out a way to make the digital model compliment the print model in such a way as to guarantee the future. So circulation is going down significantly, advertising. I mean, used to be dozens and dozens of pages of help wanted ads. it's basically disappeared. And--no one has found the answer to that yet.

Quick: President Trump has -- looked at the media as a potential enemy. Steven Bannon has said they are the enemy. You've had a long relationship with these newspapers that you read every morning. You've been invested in newspapers like The Washington Post and many other newspapers. What do you think about that?

Buffett: Well, I -- think that every -- president I've known and every politician virtually I've known one way or another, doesn't like the media. They -- they just are smarter about it. They handle it maybe in terms of covering up, or maybe he's smarter taking 'em on. But in any event, the media's looking for things to write about. And they should. I mean, that's their job. But who wants somebody looking at everything you do with a critical eye? And -- the higher the office, the more they're going to look at it with a critical eye. The more air time it's gonna have and everything. So he expresses his feeling. But I would say that he is not unique in having those feelings.

Quick: Not at all.

 

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