“We believe that Lee is best positioned to manage through the industry’s challenges,” Buffett said in a news release. “No organization is more committed to serving the vital role of high-quality local news, however delivered, as Lee.”
The news does not necessarily come as a surprise: Buffett’s company tapped Lee in 2018 to manage its newspapers in hopes of boosting readership and ad sales as circulation declined. That same year, newspaper circulation in the U.S. fell to its lowest levels since 1940, according to the Pew Research Center. While digital readership did rise in 2018, it wasn’t enough to offset the overall decline in circulation.
“If you look, there are 1,300 daily newspapers left,” Buffett told CNBC almost two years ago. “There were 1,700 or 1,800 not too long ago. Now, you’ve got the internet. Aside from the ones I mentioned, [most of them] haven’t figured out a way to make the digital model complement the print model.”