The Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, bought himself another major North Carolina media property last week when his Berkshire Hathaway group purchased the Greensboro News & Record for an undisclosed sum.
The N&R has been for sale since 2008, when parent company Landmark began divesting some of its large holdings, most notably the Weather Channel, which was bought in July 2008 by a group headed by NBC and included as a partner Bain Capital.
Buffett has been sopping up North Carolina newspapers like he’s a biscuit and they’re the red-eye gravy — he’s got the Eden News and the Reidsville Review, and, as part of his acquisition of a piece of Media General, now owns the Winston-Salem Journal, giving him two of the three big Triad dailies.
Warren Buffett has been sopping up North Carolina newspapers like he’s a biscuit and they’re the red-eye grav y.
Putting aside for the moment how this must make the High Point Enterprise feel (like the last kid picked for the kickball’ team, one would imagine), we turn instead to the more pertinent question: What does this mean for us at YES! Weekly?
Answer: Probably not that much.
Judging by recent newspaper moves over the last few years, we can make some assumptions. It’s possible that the Berkshire Hathaway will combine the Journal and N&R’s sports desks, like the Charlotte and Raleigh papers did a few years ago when they fell under the same ownership. They also consolidated the Raleigh bureau, and since neither Triad paper actually has a full-time staff in the state capital right now, this presents an opportunity.
The Journal has off-site copyediting — problematic when it comes to local names like Robinhood Road and Pfafftown. Will the N&R, which has an in-house copy desk, follow suit? And how about the presses? The Journal has a fairly new press off-site from its downtown Winston-Salem headquarters. The N&R’s press is in its downtown Greensboro building. Selling off one press could bring an influx of cash, but having dailies operate run in the same press queue creates deadline issues.
They can consolidate some advertising sales, some delivery and even their faux alts — Go Triad, at least initially, was a Triad-wide publication and it’s conceivable that the Journal’s Relish content could be folded into it and inserted into both Thursday papers; it might encourage more original content and less wire copy.
Here’s another piece of speculation: There will be layoffs, probably not massive, but certainly a few — bad news for our friends and colleagues at the Journal and the N&R, but perhaps they can take solace in the fact that the other shoe, finally, will have dropped and that some real leadership will be moving in.
And let’s not forget profits. For evidence of this we direct you to Buffett’s First Rule of Investing: Don’t lose money.
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