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In a long-ranging interview with Yahoo Finance, which will stream the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting at the beginning of May, Buffett said the newspaper industry gradually transitioned from “monopoly to franchise to competitive to toast”, largely because of declining advertising sales.
“The world has changed hugely,” the Berkshire Hathaway CEO said.
That bleak outlook, however, doesn’t extend to all newspapers. Buffett thinks that some of the papers with the highest circulations -- namely The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post -- will survive.
Although in 2012 he poured $142 million into acquiring 63 local and regional newspapers from the Virginia-based Media General chain, Buffett has since changed his tune on newspapers in recent years.
Last year, in an echo of his most recent comments, the Oracle of Omaha suggested that newspapers were destined to fail because they hadn’t figured out to profit from their digital business models.
“If you look, there are 1,300 daily newspapers left,” Buffett told CNBC almost two years ago. “There were 1,700 or 1,800 not too long ago. Now, you’ve got the internet. Aside from the ones I mentioned, [most of them] haven’t figured out a way to make the digital model complement the print model.”