Warren Buffett

Roanoke Times’ top editor will be replaced by Daily Progress publisher

Roanoke Times Executive Editor Joseph Stinnett will retire at the end of July, staffers were told at a meeting Monday afternoon. Stinnett replaced Carole Tarrant as editor last summer; he’d previously edited the The News & Advance in Lynchburg, Virginia. Lawrence McConnell, the publisher of The Daily Progress in Charlottesville, will replace Stinnett as editor.

Warren Buffett’s BH Media agreed last May to buy the Times. The Times has seen some other recent departures: statehouse reporter Mike Sluss left to join former AP reporter Bob Lewis at the Richmond law/consulting firm McGuire Woods, outdoors editor Mark Taylor became a communication director at Trout Unlimited and opinion editor Christina Nuckols became a communications advisor to the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services. Read more


Times public editor calls Joe Nocera column ‘intrinsically flawed,’ calls for more than a correction

New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan has weighed in on a dispute between two heavyweights. In one corner is high-profile Times columnist Joe Nocera. In the other, billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

In the end, she sides with Buffett, writing that a Nocera column about Buffett is “so intrinsically flawed, a standard correction didn’t get the job done.” She’s right, for the reasons she cites and for another that I’ll note below.

Sullivan’s post focused on a pair of columns (1,2) by Nocera about Buffett and recent decisions related to executive compensation at Coca-Cola, a company in which Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is the largest shareholder.

Sullivan notes that both of Nocera’s columns required corrections for factual errors. But even more than the mistakes, the major concern for her is that “The entire premise of the second column is built on a mistake: that Mr. Read more


Warren Buffett buys a TV station

Graham Holdings Company

Berkshire Hathaway will buy “a wholly-owned subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company” that includes Miami’s WPLG-TV. The consideration is “approximately 1.6 million shares of Graham Holdings Class B common stock currently owned by Berkshire Hathaway,” Graham Holdings says in a press release. Graham Holdings used to be known as the Washington Post Co.

“I am sure this is a mutually beneficial transaction for both companies,” said Warren E. Buffett, chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway. “While this transaction will greatly reduce our position in Graham Holdings, our admiration for the company and its management is undiminished.”

Berkshire Hathaway purchased most of Media General’s newspapers in 2012, and it’s added lots of newspapers since.

Reuters reported in February that Berkshire Hathaway was in talks with Graham Holdings “to trade the shares it owns in the education and media company for control of a yet-to-be-formed unit of Graham.”

Graham Holdings still owns TV stations in Detroit and Houston. Read more


Buffett group reportedly looking at some Tribune papers


There are certainly good parts of the company we’d have a good interest in,” BH Media Group CEO Terry Kroeger told NetNewsCheck’s Lou Carlozo about Tribune Co.’s newspapers. Kroeger “declined to elaborate further,” Carlozo writes, but during a speech Monday he said: “The big money-center markets are not what we do best,” and that his division of Berkshire Hathaway, which owns dozens of newspapers, is “best in the 40,000 to a 100,000 circulation range.”

By that metric, Tribune papers like The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa., the Daily Press of Newport News, Va., and the Hartford Courant could interest Warren Buffett’s company, Carlozo writes. Last December, Buffett told reporters from the Morning Call that “Allentown is our kind of place” and that while he hadn’t heard from Tribune directly, “if the phone rings, I’ll answer.”

Tribune Co. Read more


Buffett-owned Richmond Times-Dispatch introduces paywall

Richmond Times-Dispatch

Giving away content online no longer can be sustained,” Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch Publisher Tom Silvestri writes in a letter to readers. “Not if we want to be around for another 160-plus years serving the Richmond region and Virginia with the kind of news reporting that makes a difference and advertising deals that delight.”

The Times-Dispatch’s “All Access” plan, coming Tuesday, will operate in a manner now familiar to paywall observers: People who don’t subscribe to the paper will be able to see 20 stories per 30-day period without hitting a gate. Videos, obituaries, classified ads, section fronts and wire copy won’t count against the meter.

And subscription prices will rise next year, Silvestri says, when the paper “will install a comparatively small increase to cover projected higher costs, some of which result from this month’s rollout of new sections and added pages.” Read more


Roanoke Times eliminates 31 jobs, hopes to become ‘more efficient’

The Roanoke Times

The Roanoke Times laid off employees Wednesday, an action the paper says will make the operation “more efficient and locally focused.”

31 positions vanished. The paper says the reductions will be a net improvement and it will “add news gathering resources.” But two sources tell Poynter the newsroom lost five positions, including two reporters.

Warren Buffett’s media group bought the Times in May. In July, the paper replaced Editor Carole Tarrant with Joseph P. Stinnett. Also in July, the Tulsa World, which Buffett picked up in February, announced it would eliminate about 50 positions, deliver newspapers to distribution centers rather than “drop points” for carriers and move to nonproprietary software.

The (Greensboro, N.C.) News & Record has had two rounds of layoffs since Buffett bought the paper in January. Read more


Roanoke Times changes editors

A memo sent to staffers on behalf of publisher Terry Jamerson says Joseph P. Stinnett will replace Carole Tarrant as editor of the paper. Warren Buffett’s BH Media Group announced in late May it would purchase the newspaper.

Stinnett comes to the paper from The News & Advance in Lynchburg, Va. Jamerson joined the Times from The News & Advance concurrent with Buffett’s purchase.

Reached by telephone Tuesday, Tarrant said she learned about the change Monday morning. She is currently weighing opportunities and looking forward to spending the rest of the summer with her 11-year-old son. “My Facebook page has just gone crazy with really heartfelt support,” she said. “You always hope you leave an impact.” Until she learned she was out, Tarrant said, she was unaware of any problems her bosses had with her tenure. Read more


Warren Buffett buys Press of Atlantic City


Warren Buffett’s newspaper company, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., has announced plans to buy the Press of Atlantic City, Omaha.com’s Steve Jordon reports. Mark Blum will become publisher in August, once the purchase goes into effect. This will be the 30th paper Berkshire Hathaway has purchased. Most recently, it announced the purchase of the Roanoke (Va.) Times in May. Read more

Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett’s big payday, and other notes on Media General’s merger with Young

Few paid much attention to the blandly worded announcement a week ago of a merger between Media General and New Young Broadcasting. That was no surprise — an agreement between two midsize local broadcasting companies isn’t nearly as big a deal as, say, Gannett’s $2.2 billion acquisition of Belo today.

But there were at least three spicy stories lurking beneath the corporate-speak:

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway cashed in big

In May 2012 Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway bought all of Media General’s newspapers except the Tampa Tribune.

That deal included two related transactions.

First, Berkshire Hathaway loaned Media General $445 million to refinance a crushing debt load coming due. The initial interest rate was an eye-popping 10.5 percent.

Second, as thanks for saving Media General from that life-threatening financial distress, BH received penny-a-share warrants to acquire 19.9 percent of the company — 4.6 million shares in all. Read more

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What are Warren Buffett’s plans for Va., N.C. papers?

The Business Journal of the Greater Triad

Warren Buffett’s BH Media has “been buying newspapers in a fairly tight geographic area,” Mark Sutter writes.

He notes the company, which bought The Roanoke (Va.) Times last week, “has purchased at least 17 newspapers in central Virginia and central North Carolina within the last two years, including the Triad’s two major daily newspapers — the News & Record in Greensboro and the Winston-Salem Journal.”

In no other geographic area, including Buffett’s home state of Nebraska, does BH own such a cluster of newspapers.

Read more
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