Berkshire Hathaway Liveblogging: "Unending Losses" for Newspapers

By Megan McArdle

Up here in the plushly appointed press box, patrolled by grim looking security guards, the members of the press are paying varying levels of attention to the questions.  In part, that's because some of the questions aren't really that relevant to most business journalists, whose editors are not panting to hear what Warren Buffett thinks about promoting the principles of value investing among today's young people.  Other questions are only relevant to a few peoples' beats.

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Besides, the shareholder meeting is, as these meetings go, very, very long.  Press registration started at 6:30 pm, the movie began playing at 8:30 am, the Q&A has been going on for several hours, and well, there's a buffet.  A really nice buffet, with little biscuits and three kinds of meat and all the soda you can drink.

But the minute Buffett was asked about newspapers, everyone in the place was as attentive as a doberman on high-dose Adderall.  Finally, Warren Buffett takes on the world's most important topic!

Sadly, what Warren had to say wasn't particularly novel:  newspapers are in big, bad trouble.

Most newspapers in the United States, we would not buy at any price.  They have the possibility of unending losses.  30 years ago, they were an essential business if you wanted to learn sports scores, news, etc.  They were only essential to the advertiser as long as they were essential to the reader.  That's changing, it's changing every day.  And I do not see anything on the horizon that's changing

Yes, folks, you've just lashed yourselves to the rail of the Titanic.  But at least there's a buffet on the promenade deck.


This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2009/05/berkshire-hathaway-liveblogging-unending-losses-for-newspapers/17030/