Newspapers without paywalls will ‘self-destruct,’ warns Buffett

by Curtis Lee Fulton

Newspapers without paywalls will “self-destruct from a faulty business strategy,” warns billionaire investor Warren Buffett. Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett’s multinational conglomerate, has been snapping up daily newspapers across the country. He’s spent $344 million on 28 papers so far.

In the just-released 2012 edition of his famous letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, Buffett wrote that newspapers will “remain viable for a long time” if they deliver “comprehensive and reliable information to tightly-bound communities.” He cautioned newspaper from “cutting either the news content or frequency of publication,” because “skimpy news coverage will almost certainly lead to skimpy readership.”

He credited the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for moving to an online pay format early. “Over the past decade [the paper] has retained its circulation far better than any other large paper in the country,” wrote Buffett.