When most people think of media tycoons in the newspaper industry, people like Rupert Murdoch and Michael Bloomberg probably come to mind. However, what many people don’t realize is that billionaire investor Warren Buffett actually has quite a stake in the newspaper industry. In fact, he owns around 70 daily papers and quite a few other media sources, mostly through his BH Media Group.
Although people have been saying for years that the days of newspaper are numbered, that didn’t seem to phase value investor Buffett. The Oracle of Omaha continued to be bullish on newspapers in 2013, saying “…Charlie and I believe that papers delivering comprehensive and reliable information to tightly-bound communities and having a sensible Internet strategy will remain viable for a long time. ” But, it looks like even Buffett’s eternal optimism has to admit nothing lasts forever.
Recently, Warren Buffett told Politico Playbook that he isn’t feeling as optimistic about the industry.
“Newspapers are going to go downhill. Most newspapers, the transition to the internet so far hasn’t worked in digital. The revenues don’t come in… local newspapers continue to decline at a very significant rate…” Buffett said.
It’s true that newspapers have been declining, but this isn’t a new thing. In fact, newspaper circulation has been down for years. Even huge newspapers like the Boston Globe, Wall Sreet Journal, and, New York Times have seen their circulations decrease. The problem lies in online media being offered for free to consumers—why pay for a print version when you can read it online for free?
So, with newspaper subscriptions dropping rapidly, is Buffett looking to get out of the media business?
“I still love newspapers!” Buffett said. “You’re talking to the last guy in the world. Someday you’ll come out and interview me, and you’ll see a guy with a landline phone, reading a print newspaper.”