Berkshire Hathaway buys 2 small Virginia newspapers

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Warren Buffett's company has added two small Virginia newspapers to its collection of more than two dozen small and medium-sized newspapers.

Berkshire Hathaway Media Group said Tuesday that it had acquired The Martinsville Bulletin in Martinsville and the Franklin News-Post in Rocky Mount from Haskell Newspapers.

Terms of the deal are not being disclosed. Berkshire Hathaway owns 31 daily newspapers and dozens of weeklies in 10 states, including several in Virginia such as the Richmond Times-Dispatch and The Roanoke Times.

"We look forward to the opportunity to continue the tradition of community-minded journalism carried on by the Haskell family for nearly 70 years," said Terry Kroeger, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Media Group.

Berkshire said the Martinsville paper has a 12,250 daily circulation that reaches more than 60 percent of the community. The Franklin paper publishes 5,100 copies three times a week.

Berkshire's recent newspaper deals, combined with Buffett's history of letting acquired companies largely run themselves, has made the company a popular buyer of smaller newspapers.

Buffett has said he thinks newspapers will continue earning a decent return as long as they remain the primary source of information about their communities.

The Haskell family had owned the Martinsville Bulletin since 1948 and the News-Post since 1981.

"We are all pleased being with a company that puts such an emphasis on serving communities," said Charles Boothe, publisher of the News-Post. "Local news content is a priority, and this move will benefit everyone at the paper and our readers."

Newspapers remain a relatively small part of Berkshire Hathaway, which owns an assortment of more than 80 subsidiaries and holds major investments in companies like Coca-Cola Co., Wells Fargo and IBM.

Most of Berkshire's newspapers are overseen by executives at the Omaha World-Herald as part of BH Media Group, but The Buffalo (N.Y.) News, which Berkshire has owned for decades, operates separately.

Berkshire Hathaway owns newspapers in Nebraska, New York, Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Florida.