Warren Buffet said he expects the group of smaller daily and weekly papers he bought recently to have a 10 percent profit margin.
Sounds fair enough, doesn't it? After all, before the rise of the Net, smaller papers had smaller margins than the big dailies, but many still ran at 20 percent.
Of course, 10 percent may not sound like enough for owners of other smaller newspapers. Like a CNHI, still under a mound of debt but not declaring Chapter 11.
That said, that's only half of his honesty.
Buffett added that he expects those profit margins to continue to decline. (And, let's not forget, he's indicated paywalls are coming to most of these newspapers.)
And, one larger Australian chain expect to trump Advance and be out of print papers entirely within 10 years. If not sooner.
“Print revenues have been going down and are going down faster now,” Greg Hywood recently told the annual World Congress of the International News Media Association in New York. To the extent print newspapers have a future, he said, they will be “expensive, bespoke and narrowly distributed.”That said, Hywood says papers need to cut, cut, cut further on "legacy" costs before making this move. And, since his Fairfax Media owns Australia's flagship paper, the Sydney Morning Herald, Hywood probably has some background whence he speaks.
So, are established newspaper owners willing to practice some degree of "acceptance"?
Meanwhile, while going digital first means cutting legacy costs, Internet readers' continually-growing expectations means expanding digital costs on a regular basis, if larger daily papers are serious about this.