Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is slimming down its newspaper empire with more job cuts. BH Media Group is reducing staff by 148 employees and not filling 101 vacant positions, representing a total of about 6 percent of its workforce, the company said Tuesday in a statement. The organization is seeking to trim expenses because of declining advertising revenue. Among the cutbacks, Buffett’s hometown newspaper, the Omaha World-Herald, is eliminating 43 positions including vacant ones, the paper reported on its website Tuesday. Eleven newsroom employees were among those let go.
Buffett’s publications haven’t been spared from the industry’s decline in traditional advertising and circulation. The shift to online shopping has forced some large regional and national clients to cut back on advertising with the media group as a “harsh reality” affects the industry, according to BH Media Group Chief Executive Officer Terry Kroeger. Job cuts also hit at least two more Berkshire papers, with the Press of Atlantic City saying Tuesday that it eliminated 16 positions, including four spots that aren’t currently filled. The Richmond-Times Dispatch in Virginia is also trimming staff. Lissa Cupp, chief marketing officer for Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire’s BH Media Group, confirmed the cuts.
Last year, Buffett’s newspaper group cut 289 jobs, including 108 vacant positions, saying digital growth couldn’t offset print revenue losses. Some publications at that time scaled back the number of pages they printed. Buffett has long been a supporter of the news business and even delivered papers when he was a teenager. He agreed six years ago to buy most of Media General Inc.’s newspapers to expand his media group, and he’s snapped up publications in Virginia since then. The company is testing new digital business models. Its digital products generated about 1.3 billion page views in 2017, an increase of 22 percent from a year earlier, according to Tuesday’s statement. “The data suggest our industry is changing, not dying,” Kroeger said. “Our news content has never been more important than it is right now.”