October 8, 2012

The Tampa Tribune | Tampa Bay Times | MarketWatch
Media General sold The Tampa Tribune to Revolution Capital Group, the companies announced Monday. The sales price was $9.5 million.

“It’s a bittersweet day for Media General to complete the sale of its last remaining newspaper group,” Media General CEO Marshall Morton said in a press release. “We believe strongly in the value of local content,” Revolution managing partner Robert Loring said in the release.

Loring told Tampa Tribune reporter Richard Mullins “We are definitely in this for the long haul. We don’t flip businesses.”

The deal represents a substantial financial investment, [Tribune publisher William ] Barker said, and means that Tampa will continue to have a newspaper that is locally produced and printed in the city and reflects the values and concerns of the community.

The Tampa Tribune competes with the Poynter-owned Tampa Bay Times. It was the only Media General newspaper that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway declined to purchase when it bought Media General’s other print properties in May. In a letter to editors and publishers at those papers, Buffett said he believed “strong interest in community affairs varies inversely with population size and directly with the number of years a community’s population has been in residence. Therefore, we will focus on small and mid-sized papers in long-established communities.”

In MarketWatch, John Gerard Lewis writes about Buffett’s focus on papers that have monopolies on the communities they serve, and says anyone hoping to follow Buffett into newspaper salvation may be disappointed: “there’s no replicable investment that is available, at least none that should be appealing to an ordinary investor.”

It’s a fashion to monitor Buffett and then replicate his moves. This time, however, what is a good investment for him is simply not available to others. Nor should it be misread as a buy signal for the entire newspaper industry.

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City…
Andrew Beaujon

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