Buffett says News may be last paper standing

Will The Buffalo News be the “last man standing?”

Warren Buffett suggested exactly that in a recent and otherwise pessimistic appraisal of the newspaper industry.

Buffett, during an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” last month, pointed to a sharp decline in circulation at newspapers across the nation that had been reported a few days before.

“Newspapers have got a terrible future,” Buffett said. “And we own the Buffalo News, and as you say we hope to be the last man standing and I would say we might very well be. But, if you look at the newspaper circulation figures that just got published a couple of days ago – it was just a dramatic decrease.”

Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and chairman of The News, was interviewed after his purchase of the Burlington Northern railroad but, at one point, was asked to comment on the future of newspapers.

Buffett attributed the industry’s decline to online media and referred to Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who was co-hosting “Squawk Box.” Rendell had already acknowledged his growing dependence on digital media.

“The truth is, fewer people you know, are going to be reading newspapers a year from now and two years from now,” Buffett said. “Now they’re going to continue to get information. Everybody loves to get news, but the indispensability of the paper has been diminished.

“And you know, like the Governor, I would get my sports scores, you know he probably read the Philadelphia Inquirer or something in those days and I got them from the Omaha World Herald. But now, I click on at night and I can look at the box score and play-by-play and everything else. So, it’s changed.”