Warren Buffett goes long on papers, says free news won't last

Buffett just bought 63 more newspapers. Is he locking up a dying market, or will paywalls revive papers?

Berkshire Hathaway Inc., run by Buffett, spent $142 million buying newspapers in "towns and cities with a strong sense of community," reports Bloomberg. Circulation slips in cities where dailies compete, a paper no longer acts as the primary source of local news, or the market doesn't have a sense of identity, says Buffett, and he avoids those papers.

Buffett didn't say whether he planned to institute paywalls for his new papers, just that they were working out the "blend of digital and print that will attract both the audience and the revenue we need." Media General, the seller, evidently hasn't figured out those details since their stock has dropped more than 90 percent since the end of 2003. Buffett says free news "is an unsustainable model and certain of our papers are already making progress in moving to something that makes more sense."

Buying bones

Buffett is going down just like all the lame stream media! People are finding ways to get the actual truthful news from other sources instead of newspapers.

garry sills on bloomberg.com

News is ripe for disruption. News was a better business when it was harder to find out what was happening in the world because of difficulty in transporting information and media. That's all gone now.

btipling on news.ycombinator.com

Don't even bother with printed versions. People only read about 20% of their content anyway then they go to landfill.

Spike on theage.com.au

News has always been free. The newspaper was a package deal, largely paid for by advertising, and consumers only forked over a little bit of money for the convenience.

rickmb on news.ycombinator.com

The Net net

Buffet has said time and time again that he does not understand the Internet. This just proves that.

TyroneJ on bloomberg.com

Newspapers will survive, provided they continue to attract readers and thus advertising revenue. The trick to online is to either charge users or at least increase the potential advertising space available and or a combination of both.

peter menton on theage.com.au

News business

We get free news on television and cheap enhansed news Fox, MSNBC, CNN etc. so why do you think we will pay more for what has been slow, biased news that doesn't meet the needs of the "get it now" generation.

Michael Lederman on bloomberg.com

I have lived in rural area most of my life and these people will buy the local rag before any city publication, because it directly relates to them and their district.

Peterbee on theage.com.au

Seriously, I would pay real money for accurate news and competent analysis. I've tried, I really have. But the available options are just awful.

ekidd on news.ycombinator.com

Quick survey: tell us if you buy your local paper daily, weekly (Sunday only), or never.

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