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Warren Buffett’s newspaper group slashes 289 jobs as circulation slumps

LiveMint logoLiveMint 04-04-2017 Katherine Chiglinsky

New York: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. eliminated 289 jobs at its newspapers amid a decline in print readership and advertising revenue. The cuts include 108 vacant positions, according to a memo Monday from Terry Kroeger, chief executive officer of BH Media Group. Some papers are also reducing the amount of pages they publish.

“While more readers than ever turn to our digital products, our digital revenue is not growing fast enough yet to offset print revenue losses from both advertising and circulation,” he wrote. “Therefore, we need to cut our expenses.”

Buffett, who called a teenage job delivering newspapers his “one brief flirtation with honest labour,” expanded his bet on the industry in recent years, buying papers from Virginia to Oklahoma. The billionaire has praised newspapers that focus on local communities, which he says can be profitable.

“Let’s keep this in perspective,” Kroeger wrote. “Following today’s very difficult actions, we remain a strong company of 4,450 employees, and we are the news leader in all of our markets.”

The memo didn’t identify which of the publications were targeted for cost cuts. The firings were reported earlier Monday by the Omaha World-Herald, one of the papers owned by Berkshire.

Buffett’s company, which owns businesses from railroads to Fruit of the Loom, agreed in 2012 to pay $142 million for some newspapers from Media General Inc. Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire eventually shut one of the publications, the Manassas News & Messenger, that year, eliminating 33 jobs there and more than 70 others across the media group. Bloomberg

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