Buffett: Newspapers are ‘toast’ after ad decline

NEW YORK • Warren Buffett (picture), the man behind a print-media empire that includes the Buffalo News and Omaha World-Herald, doesn’t think most newspapers can be saved.

The decline of advertising gradually turned the newspaper industry “from monopoly, to franchise, to competitive”, the billionaire CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc said in an interview with Yahoo Finance. And now, most newspapers are “toast”.

The bleak outlook echoes Buffett’s remarks at last year’s annual meeting, when he lamented the state of the newspaper industry. Berkshire’s BH Media, which owns papers across the country, has been cutting jobs to cope with declining advertising revenue.

Berkshire struck a deal last year for Lee Enterprises Inc, which owns papers including the St Louis Post-Dispatch, to manage its newspapers and digital operations in 30 markets.

Buffett, 88, said last year that it isn’t of much economic consequence to Berkshire because the firm bought its papers at “reasonable” prices.

Readers sought out newspapers when they were packed with ads about bargains, jobs and apartments, Buffett said. But Craigslist and other sites have taken over that role.

By 2016, the newspaper industry’s ad revenue was nearly a third of what it was a decade before, falling to US$18 billion (RM74.34 billion) from US$49 billion, according to Pew Research Centre.

Not all papers are doomed, though. The New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal will survive, he said. — Bloomberg