The patron saint of local newspapers told The New York Times' Christine Haughney that there's no magic formula for his papers' success. That's a pretty modest statement from a self-professed newspaper "addict" who bought 63 papers last month, and we don't buy it one bit.
Neither does Haughney, who looks at Buffett's Buffalo News. To be honest, it's a little hard to tell who exactly the article is for: media gazers ... newspaper entrepreneurs ...journalists who begged Buffet to buy their papers last month... David Carr? But if you're looking for a model for how to run your own local newspaper, Haughney's look at Buffett's treasured paper will interest you. According to Haughney, the News sustained financial blows and newsroom cuts, but still has reach: "70.9 percent of area households read or viewed The Buffalo News in the last month. The only news outlet with a higher number was The Des Moines Register, with 72.9 percent reading," writes Haughney.
The takeaways: get local, get a benefactor to pay for your award-winning stories, and get that benefactor to negotiate with unions and approve an iPad version along with expansion commercial printing. But, perhaps most telling about Buffett's secrets is what Haughney glosses over: A pay wall, which The News announced on Friday which will be implemented this fall will charge readers .99 cents for a one day subscription to the online version of the newspapers.