Warren Buffett Buys Local Newspaper, or Buffett Periodical Purchase Promotes Buffet of Positivity

In a bit of news particularly relevant to us at Morgan Reynolds, it was recently announced that

Warren Buffett plays the ukulele, because who's gonna tell him he can't?

Warren Buffett plays the ukulele, because who’s gonna tell him he can’t?

our local newspaper, the Greensboro News & Record, was purchased by Warren Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway.

The News & Record has been owned by Virginia based Landmark Communications since the 1960’s. Normally, a purchase by a major conglomerate would inspire trepidation, but word of the newspaper’s sale has been met with many positive reactions. Former News & Record editor John Robinson wrote in favor of the sale on his blog, and reactions from readers on other articles and blogs seem to share that position.

Of course, it wasn’t always so for Buffett. When he acquired his first newspaper, the Buffalo Evening News, in 1977, he was met with resistance. Rival publishers in Buffalo tried to depict Buffett as a cold out of towner, swooping in to destroy local businesses and put people out of work. They also sued over Buffett’s plans to offer special promotions on his paper. For a time, this worked, but Buffett ultimately won out, and has helped keep the Evening News (which eventually changed its name to the Buffalo News) a profitable and healthy business.

Since then, Buffett has bought–through Berkshire Hathaway–27 more daily newspapers. He’s also grown more famous, in part for his remarkably down to Earth investment strategy: largely, Buffett supports businesses that produce tangible products with clear benefits. Though newspapers are only a small part of the Berkshire Hathaway empire, Buffett’s confidence in their value is a major boon. And given how many daily newspapers are struggling to survive or closing their doors, Buffett’s purchase feels less like a corporate buyout and more like the  arrival of a generous benefactor.

There is some worry, of course. Though Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway typically have not interfered with the running of the businesses they acquire, some fear Berkshire Hathaway may try to impose some new policies; many, for example, believe the News & Record website will no longer be free to access. Others worry that Berkshire Hathaway might try to cut costs by combining the News & Record with the neighboring city paper the Winston-Salem Journal, another Berkshire Hathaway acquisition.

Whether or not any of that happens remains to be seen. For the moment, we’ll be watching the local news closely, and hoping for the best.

To learn more about Warren Buffett, and his remarkable rise from genial Midwesterner to one of the country’s wealthiest people, check out Business Leaders: Warren Buffett by Anne Janette Johnson (ISBN #978-1-59935-080-6) from your local library, or purchase it from Morgan Reynolds Publishing. Then check out the Business Leaders series, featuring biographies on Steve Jobs,  Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, Russell Simmons, and many more.

Josh Barrer

Associate Editor