The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

October 12, 2012

Warren Buffett’s bet on newspapers is black and white (and read all over)


Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — When the 20th century’s most successful investor bought 63 newspapers from Media General last June, it raised major eyebrows.

The Wall Street Journal recently commented about American business magnate Warren Buffett and newspapers.

Had the “Oracle of Omaha” not heard about the pending extinction? The Internet, like a meteorite killing non-avian dinosaurs, was making print media obsolete.

The WSJ argued that Buffet essentially split the newspaper industry, drawing distinction between metropolitan and community publications. In other words, he wasn’t interested in buying metro dailies like the Los Angeles Times.

“If you live in South Central Los Angeles, you’re not interested in who dies in Beverly Hills,” Buffet said.

“In Grand Island, Neb., everyone is interested in how the football team does. They’re interested in who got married.”

Buffet, a self-confessed newspaper “addict,” is convinced this so-called dinosaur will thrive.

“I do not have any secret sauce,” Buffett told the New York Times. “There are still 1,400 daily papers in the United States. The nice thing about it is that somebody can think about the best answer and we can copy him. Two or three years from now, you’ll see a much better-defined pattern of operations online and in print by papers.”

As egocentric members of the press, we like to discuss our potential demise. But reports of our death are greatly exaggerated.

In honor of National Newspaper Week, we’d like to dedicate this editorial to our readers. You’re our most important resource, and it’s a privilege to serve as your print and online news source in northwest Oklahoma.

Our seven-day morning newspaper of record serves nearly 45,000 readers daily and more than 50,000 on Sundays.

Enidnews.com is growing, with 1.3 million monthly page views and nearly 400,000 monthly mobile page views.

Day and night, we are focused on our community as we publish our newspaper, whether print of digital.

As we think of the Fourth Estate’s future, remember this key to the past: Newspapers predate the founding of our great republic.

Thomas Jefferson summed it up in a letter to Col. Edward Carrington, Jan. 16, 1787.

“The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter,” Jefferson wrote.