Berkshire Cuts 289 Jobs At Newspaper Division

Media & Advertising Dow Jones Newswires

FILE PHOTO - Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett plays bridge during the Berkshire annual meeting weekend in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S. on May 3, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo (Copyright Reuters 2017)

Warren Buffett's newspaper company cut 289 jobs, including 108 vacant positions, due to lower advertising revenue, according to a memo sent Monday to employees.

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BH Media Group, a subsidiary of Mr. Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. that owns 31 daily newspapers, is also cutting the number of pages in some of its papers, the memo said.

"Our digital revenue is not growing fast enough yet to offset print revenue losses from both advertising and circulation," Terry Kroeger, BH Media's chief executive, wrote in the memo. "It is imperative that we take this action. Otherwise some of our operations will become unprofitable."

Mr. Buffett didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Buffett, who delivered newspapers when he was young, is fond of the business and bought most of Berkshire's newspapers from Media General Inc. in 2012.

After the cuts, BH Media has 4,450 employees, the memo said. BH Media is based in Omaha like its parent company and owns the Omaha World-Herald as well as daily and weekly papers around the country. Berkshire Hathaway also separately owns the Buffalo News.

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The job cuts affected some of BH Media's largest-circulation papers, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Tulsa World, the Roanoke Times, the Winston-Salem Journal and the Press of Atlantic City, according to reports in those newspapers. The Roanoke Times article also said it would discontinue three "small community publications."

Mr. Buffett wrote about the challenges facing the newspaper business in his 1990 letter to shareholders: "While many media businesses will remain economic marvels in comparison with American industry generally, they will prove considerably less marvelous than I, the industry, or lenders thought would be the case only a few years ago."

But he has remained optimistic about the industry, writing in his 2012 letter that newspapers still provide important locals news.

"Papers delivering comprehensive and reliable information to tightly-bound communities and having a sensible Internet strategy will remain viable for a long time," he wrote.

Write to Nicole Friedman at nicole.friedman@wsj.com

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