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Newsonomics: What was once unthinkable is quickly becoming reality in the destruction of local news
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March 19, 2013, 9:41 a.m.
LINK: ebyline.biz  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   March 19, 2013

What is it about Warren Buffett that makes people want to reverse-engineer his financial formulas? (Probably the billions of dollars. We are all Buffettologists now.) Peter Beller and Sarah Erickson at Ebyline have an interesting piece where they try to figure out the common threads behind Warren Buffett’s recent newspaper-buying binge:

Here’s how to tell if your local newspaper will survive the internet apocalypse:

  • Does it have a circulation of 30,000 or less?
  • Is it in a town with a population of less than 75,000?
  • Does paid weekday circulation top 25% of the total population?
  • Does it have a ratio of online readers to print subscribers of less than 5?

If you answered “Yes” to all these questions you can sleep soundly knowing that, even if your newspaper hasn’t already been purchased by the second-richest man in America, it has a fighting chance. Here’s why.

The authors argue “it’s better to be ubiquitous in Opelika than expendable in New York City,” which matches up well with the longstanding trend toward the worst newspaper performance happening at the major metro level, with community and small-town papers generally holding up better. (Also note that with the recent closure of the Boston Phoenix, its sister papers in Providence and Portland will survive, despite/because of their smaller size.)

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