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Koterba, Plante, Zyglis Traded to Lee Enterprises

Lee Enterprises has bought the Berkshire Hathaway (BH Media Group) newspapers. After managing the BH newspapers for 18 months Lee Enterprises now takes ownership of all the BH newspapers, including The Buffalo News. (The Berkshire Hathaway-owned The Buffalo News was not a part of the BH Media Group, but is part of the sale.)

The Buffalo News report:

The Buffalo News, after 42 years as part of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, is being sold to Lee Enterprises, an Iowa-based chain that owns 50 newspapers, mainly in the Midwest.

With the $140 million deal, announced Wednesday morning, Lee will become only the third owner in the 140-year history of The News.

Analysts said they were not surprised by the deal. Lee has managed all of the 30 newspapers owned by Berkshire, except for The Buffalo News, since the summer of 2018.

It marks the end of Buffett’s foray into the newspaper business, which began with his purchase of The News in 1977…

The BH Media Group newspapers.

The Lee Enterprises newspapers.


The Nieman Lab checks in on the buy:

Circa 2012, one of the most popular lines among American newspaper journalists went something like this: “Newspapers can’t be that terrible of a business if Warren Buffett, the smartest investor in the world, wants in.”

That was the year that Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway bought 63 newspapers from Media General for $142 million. As The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Will Bunch put it: “The fact that Warren Buffett thought newspapers were a good investment was always a huge psychic boost for journalists.”

Well, that line lost whatever punch it had retained this morning when Berkshire Hathaway announced it was selling its papers to Lee Enterprises for $140 million. Buffett famously doesn’t like selling any of his assets — his preferred time period for holding a stock is “forever” — so this one comes with more sting than other newspaper dealings.

Today only reinforces the fact that mergers and acquisitions are the No. 1 strategy of the fast-declining daily newspaper industry [emphasis added]. Cutting costs by getting bigger is the only real plan the industry is collectively behind.


Closer to home the buy means that BH Media Group staff editorial cartoonists

Jeff Koterba (Omaha World-Herald),

Bruce Plante (Tulsa World),

and Adam Zyglis (The Buffalo News)

now join David Fitzsimmons (Arizona Daily Star)

and Phil Hands (Wisconsin State Journal) on Team Lee.

(If I have it right…)
That gives the New Lee Enterprises five editorial cartoonists, meaning 6¼% of Lee daily newspapers have editorial cartoonists on staff. Yes, it is a pathetic amount, but still better than the Gannett or Tribune chains. (McClatchy with three staff ed-op cartoonists, but fewer newspapers, still beats the New Lee percentage.)


Elsewhere Corn Nation‘s Jon Johnston goes on a rant:

The other thing that bothers me is that people involved in the newspaper industry have an incredible amount of self-importance in that the world is going to fall apart if they all lose their jobs. It’s this constant attitude of “you’ll be sorry when we’re gone”, a complete and total denial that the newspaper industry is still an INDUSTRY that is reliant upon making money to insure its survival.

Someone like Buffet is supposed to come along and save them when they were incapable of figuring it out for themselves, either because they wouldn’t change or because they were just too damned stupid to survive.

Farmers in Nebraska get their asses kicked by the winds of the economy on an ever-revolving basis. You know what they do? THEY GROW THE FOOD THAT FEEDS THE WORLD. That’s about a noble a job as you can have in this world, and they’re constantly called hicks because of it. You know what they don’t do? They don’t take to twitter en masse bemoaning the loss of their land, lifestyle and futures.

Suck it up, sunsabitches. You chose this career. Unless you put blinders on, you saw the doom on the horizon. You still stayed? What the hell.


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