Aerial Photo of Lansing, NC by Tom Fowler (http://www.tomfowler.net)
We love Smalltown USA. Our smallest town in North Carolina. Lansing population pushing 200.
You can see why we love small from excerpts in a USA Today article entitled “Buffets Love for papers “unnatural”? No Way” by Rem Rieder.
Rieder is editor and senior vice president of American Journalism Review.
Buffet’s quotes sum up the philosophical foundation of our Positive Community News magazines.
Here are excerpts from this USA Today article: Buffett admits an ‘almost unnatural’ newspaper love
So what’s up with Warren Buffett — the savviest of the savvy when it comes to money, the Oracle of Omaha himself — enfolding the much-maligned relics in his warm embrace?
In his closely watched letter to shareholders released Friday afternoon, Buffett devoted a substantial chunk to newspapers: why he was buying them, why he would continue to buy them and why that made sense.
He even said that he loved them.
Buffett wrote that he and Charlie Munger, vice chairman of Buffett’s holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, and his right-hand man, “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.”
Buffett’s emergence as newspapers’ cheerleader-in-chief represents a remarkable turnaround. True, the legendary investor has owned Washington Post stock for years, and he purchased The Buffalo News in 1977. But four years ago, Buffett famously said newspapers faced “unending losses” and that he wouldn’t buy them “at any price.”
Next thing you know, he acquired his hometown Omaha World-Herald in late 2011. Last year he purchased 63 dailies and weeklies from Media General (significantly, he passed on acquiring its largest paper — more on that later). This year he’s adding the Tulsa World and North Carolina’s Greensboro News & Record to his portfolio. And he’s not stopping the buying spree anytime soon.
So what happened to not “at any price”? Buffett laughs heartily when I ask him that question in a telephone interview. “I shouldn’t have said ‘at any price,'” he replies, adding, “Those prices did come down a lot.”
Clearly the bargain-basement price tags of newspapers in today’s market have a lot to do with his shift. After all, this is a man who loves to buy when there is blood in the streets. And despite all of the gloom and doom, many newspapers remain profitable, although far less so than in the glory days.
It’s also crucial to keep in mind that Buffett’s love of newspapers, while deep, is not indiscriminate. He likes small and medium papers but has zero interest in picking up large metropolitan papers.
To flourish in this era, Buffett says a newspaper “has got to be indispensable to a significant proportion of the community. It’s hard to do that in Los Angeles.”
He continues that a successful newspaper must provide material that is important to its readers and that they can’t find elsewhere. “You can define that better in a smaller city than in a sprawling metro area.”
Despite his passion, Buffett is a money guy, not a dewy-eyed sentimentalist.
Remember, the goal is to make the papers indispensable.
While community newspapers are dwarfed by Buffett’s big-ticket holdings — Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital recently acquired the food giant H.J. Heinz — his enthusiasm for them is palpable. And he clearly believes that if you buy the right ones, and run them properly (making them indispensable), they remain sound investments as well as objects of affection.
Buffet ends the article saying: “It’s almost unnatural how much I love newspapers.”
Gosh, Merri and I feel the same….See three ways we can help you learn how to earn through writing and publishing.
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