Warren Buffett to his new employees: ‘It’s your job to make your paper indispensable’

Omaha World-Herald
Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway purchased most of Media General’s newspapers last week, writes in a letter to those papers’ publishers and editors, “I believe newspapers that intensively cover their communities will have a good future.” He expects that Berkshire Hathaway will always own the papers, says papers shouldn’t consider his personal political views, and believes editors should not reduce their news holes.

They will, however, have to follow certain principles: take on no debt that makes them vulnerable, expect to charge for online content somehow and make sure an intense local focus is in their DNA: “Technological change has caused us to lose primacy in various key areas, including national news, national sports, stock quotations and employment opportunities,” Buffett writes. “So be it. Our job is to reign supreme in matters of local importance.”

Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett writes, “will probably purchase more papers in the next few years.” He also invited the new employees to next year’s Berkshire annual meeting. “We had a newspaper-throwing contest at this year’s meeting, and my competition was weak,” he writes.

Related: Media General, Warren Buffett agree on paywalls | Warren Buffett not yet done buying newspapers after purchasing 63 from Media General

Watch Warren Buffett toss a newspaper:

We have made it easy to comment on posts, however we require civility and encourage full names to that end (first initial, last name is OK). Please read our guidelines here before commenting.

  • Barbara Selvin

    Buffett is a smart man. He’s got the right answers, in my view: “take on no debt that makes them vulnerable, expect to charge for online
    content somehow and make sure an intense local focus is in their DNA.” I agree with the previous commenter that about the difficulty of building a better product with a shrunken staff, but a lack of corporate debt should free up some dough for staff. Newspapers are still making profits.
    Maybe the Newhice could sell the Times-Picayune to Berkshire Hathaway.

  • http://twitter.com/writingMaine Bob Mentzinger

    Either he sees a bottom, it’s a philanthropy play, or he’s senile. In any case, there aren’t too many  newspapers that “cover their communities intensively” after sweeping debt + loss of moat/printing press = no future.