“Be Indispensable,” Make Money — Simple As That Says The Oracle of Omaha

Paid content is one of my favorite topics, as our regular reader know. It’s a favorite topic because it’s my life. I get paid to create content (by brands, not newspapers), and I want to help my friends and colleagues get paid for their work too.

That’s one reason I like media companies entering in the marketing services business. Meredith has been in the game for decades, but a lot of newspapers are just now getting up to speed on the idea that they can help local businesses develop strategies and the communications for today’s rapidly shifting mediascape.

Raju Narisetti, vice president and deputy head of strategy for The Wall Street Journal believes, “news companies have to take the lead on reinventing advertising.” I don’t disagree, although I would suggest approaching the problem from all sides.


Warren Buffett, for one, is holding down the capital investment side, and the “I love newspapers” cheerleading side of the deal. To flourish in this era, Buffett says, a newspaper “has got to be indispensable to a significant proportion of the community.”

Berkshire-Hathaway recently added Tulsa World to its media holdings, which now includes 28 dailies like The Buffalo News, Omaha World Herald, Richmond Times-Dispatch and Winston-Salem Journal. Berkshire-Hathaway also owns a significant share of The Washington Post.

The Oracle also shared an interesting point of view on paywalls in his recent letter to stockholders. “I’m not interested in the Internet for money. I’m interested in preventing the erosion of print.” He adds, “I could kick myself for not figuring this out earlier.”

Buffett’s point of view is old school, and it’s not shared by a lot of new media experts. What are your thoughts?

My thought is The Oracle of Omaha does not throw money at sinking ships. He also details how newspapers in small- to medium-sized markets can accomplish indispensability. He says a successful newspaper must provide material that is important to its readers and that they can’t find elsewhere. “You can define that better in a smaller city than in a sprawling metro area.”

Buffett is a champion investor the likes of which Wall Street has never seen. And he loves newspapers, not as exceptional advertising vehicles, but as the best and only source of critical, local news, sports, opinion, etc.

Meanwhile, it seems that even the most accomplished freelance journalists struggle to make a paycheck.

Previously on AdPulp: Buffett Buys What He Believes In And Well Understands

Previously on DavidBurn.com: Information Is Not News, And News Is Not A Commodity | Ink Stains May Wash Off, But They Don’t Wear Off



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.