Let’s start with fun.
The SUPER BOWL COMETH!
Once again, the Super Bowl features two teams that I don’t much care all about that much, but I’ll go watch anyway. I hope that it’s a fun event and a chance to spend some time with my neighbors because I don’t get out much.
I’m sure there are PLENTY of Nebraska fans who are also KC Chiefs fans. One of my best and oldest friends is a KC guy, as is our own Evan, here on CN. Given that, I’ll probably cheer for the Chiefs because why not?
Warren Buffet Sells His Newspapers, Including Omaha World Herald
The big news yesterday was that Omaha Billionaire Warren Buffet sold his newspapers off to the evil corporate empire Lee Enterprises.
Warren Buffett gets out of the newspaper business | WNWO
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) Billionaire Warren Buffett is giving up on the newspaper business. He’s selling all of Berkshire Hathaway’s publications to Lee Enterprises for $140 million, including the Omaha World-Herald in Nebraska and The Buffalo News in New York. Buffett is a lifelong fan of newspapers but he has said for several years that he expects most of them to continue on their declining trajectory, save for a handful of national papers such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Stop spreading the news; Warren Buffett throws in the towel on newspaper business - MarketWatch
Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway BRK.B, +0.21% is selling the entire portfolio in the BH Media Group (BHMG), as well as The Buffalo News, which serves Western New York, to Lee Enterprises Inc. LEE, +66.67% , a local news provider and advertising platform serving 50 markets.
Lee will pay $140 million in cash and Berkshire will provide it with about $576 million in long-term financing at a 9% annual interest rate. That will allow the Davenport, Iowa-based company to refinance debt and clean up its balance sheet.
Let’s go through some of this, shall we?
On The One Hand
It is bizarre to me there are those who believe Warren Buffet (and by extension, Berkshire Hathaway - BH) has any obligation to throw money into local newspapers to help them survive when they have done so little to help themselves over the past two decades. I have talked about journalism and newspapers quite a bit on this site over the years and in that time, there has been about zero innovation done by the newspaper industry (business owners, not journalists) to figure out a sustainable business model.
Could it be that one does not exist? It could, but when you examine the number of start ups over the years I find it hard to believe that someone a lot smarter than me (most of you, for example) couldn’t have come up with something. Fact is, there’s been very little in the way of trying. Perhaps that’s because there isn’t enough money in it to make it worth the risk.
Look at the bold bit above.
$576M financed at 9% long term. Somewhere I read 25 years. You’re not getting a guaranteed 9% on your money are you? No. Look over the next 25 years and tell me you can guarantee 9% on your other investments and I’ll respond you’re either a liar, a delusional sonofabitch, or someone who is taking a fair amount of risk.
That’s the answer here. BH is loaning Lee nearly half a billion at 9% because there’s a lot of risk involved. In other words, BH has little faith that newspapers will live another 25 years in their current form. If I’m reading that wrong, please let me know in the comments.
The other thing that bothers me is that people involved in the newspaper industry have an incredible amount of self-importance in that the world is going to fall apart if they all lose their jobs. It’s this constant attitude of “you’ll be sorry when we’re gone”, a complete and total denial that the newspaper industry is still an INDUSTRY that is reliant upon making money to insure its survival.
Someone like Buffet is supposed to come along and save them when they were incapable of figuring it out for themselves, either because they wouldn’t change or because they were just too damned stupid to survive.
Farmers in Nebraska get their asses kicked by the winds of the economy on an ever-revolving basis. You know what they do? THEY GROW THE FOOD THAT FEEDS THE WORLD. That’s about a noble a job as you can have in this world, and they’re constantly called hicks because of it. You know what they don’t do? They don’t take to twitter en masse bemoaning the loss of their land, lifestyle and futures.
Suck it up, sunsabitches. You chose this career. Unless you put blinders on, you saw the doom on the horizon. You still stayed? What the hell.
This quote from one of the articles above:
Buffett, a newspaper lover who was a delivery boy as a young man, said Lee, which has managed his newspaper business since 2018, was his only choice for the sale. “We had zero interest in selling the group to anyone else for one simple reason: We believe that Lee is best positioned to manage through the industry’s challenges,” said the billionaire investor.
Lee Enterprises has been painted as a horrible, horrible evil empire run by Sith Lords determined to suck the blood from everything they touch. Is that fair?
Perhaps Buffet sees a future in which newspapers will survive, and truly believes that Lee understands this industry better than any one human. Jeff Bezos - owner of the Washington Post - will die. Glen Taylor - owner of the Minneapolis Star Tribune - will die. What will happen to their newspapers when they are gone? Corporations live on and on, too evil to die. Well, most of them anyway.
On The Other Hand
On the other hand, we will be sorry when they’re gone. Newspapers, journalists, I mean, not Jeff Bezos, Glen Taylor or Warren Buffet, for that matter.
I see constant comments on social media that people have stopped subscribing because of some guy named Dirk. Over this past year, someone who previously worked at the OWH told me that the rest of the OWH referred to the sports section as the “toy department”.
They weren’t wrong.
If you stopped subscribing to the OWH because of the sports section I have to believe you’ve missed the point of a newspaper. Before I start this completely condescending rant... oh, wait. You thought I started a bit ago. No, that was the rant at them. This is the rant at you, the consumer.
I want you to stop and think - what is the point of a newspaper? Is it to present the news? Is it to explain the news - because we live in a complex world and there is so much shit going on that you can’t possibly keep up because just today you’ve already spent two hours on Facebook and then what happened that was important? A virus in China spreading across the world... didn’t Stephen King write that book.. Is it to entertain? Is it to have an editorial page that challenges you with different perspectives on an important subject, or one that agrees with you all the time?
Someone needs to go to the City Council meetings in Lincoln and Omaha, write that shit down and report on it. Someone needs to look for discrepancies in public spending. Someone needs to tell you whether the local production of “Mamma Mia” is worth spending money on and what about the band at the Zoo Bar? They’re trying to build roundabouts! There’s snow removal! There are potholes everywhere! WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!?
In the big scheme of things and with all due respect to the Nebraska sports media people - the sports section of the paper is the “toy department”. If you’re not subscribing because of them... well.... who gives a shit about Dirk. You don’t have to read his stuff if you don’t like it. (His feature articles are damned good, however. I have to admit, I respect his ability to troll y’all, but I still have a soul. Hmmmmmm)
Updated statement below. “What an unmitigated mess. It just doesn’t have to be this way. And Mr. Buffett knows it.” pic.twitter.com/Hj7KhUQaJl— The OWH Guild (@owhguild) January 29, 2020
Remember that bit I did above about how Lee Enterprises is painted as an evil empire?
Perhaps it’s because they deserve it. I’m not taking this from some article I heard from somewhere, earnings reports or that their executives get bonuses as if capitalism is some evil and not responsible for having raised much of the world out of poverty. I get this “evil empire” from guys who have worked for them.
See, when you’re up in the press box, they do this thing where they go “this is a working press box” and explain how you’re supposed to be quiet and not root or be loud. NO OUTBURSTS. It’s like you’re at a golf match, the most boring fucking possible sport ever, the most boring fucking fans ever, being reported on by the most boring fucking reporters ever. They even pipe in fake birds sometimes as if that will make it more interesting.
On the field... and listen... I don’t shoot photography professionally. I wish I did, but I earn a good, solid living as an IT Consultant. My wife has a standing order that says I could change my career as long as I could replace my income and I ain’t doing that in journalism, either by writing or by shooting photography.
I have a lot of respect for journalists. I do. I keep interviewing them on my podcasts because I want to understand what’s going on. If I didn’t think it was important, I’d interview the people who find it necessary to pump fake birds into golf coverage.
Anyway... on the field, it goes more like this:
WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT GUY DOING?
I DON’T KNOW I MISSED IT
HEY, WHO ARE YOU SHOOTING FOR?
[Lee Enterprises Newspaper, Arkansas, Maybe]
LEE ENTERPRISES? ARE THEY AS BIG A BASTARDS AS I’VE HEARD THEY ARE?
YEAH, EXCEPT WORSE.
[Next play begins.]
And there’s more to the conversation. And then because you yelled LEE ENTERPRISES and have an incredibly piercing voice, other guys offer their opinions about how their newsrooms have been cut to shreds, but they’re still expected to report stuff. You know what phrase they never use? “COST SYNERGIES” - never heard a fucking guy on a field ever say “COST SYNERGIES” ever. Not even a farmer.
I honestly don’t know why they stay. That’s kind of a lie, though. I’m 57. Been dead. My IT career is probably coming to an end in the next 3-5 years. What’s next? Fuck if I know. It’s kind of terrifying.
The Bottom Line
Bottom line is that somebody needs to be watching what’s going on and we need to pay them to do it.
It’s clear that we are unwilling to do so.
It’s going to be interesting to see what goes on in the next few years between Lee Enterprises, the OWH and the Lincoln Journal Star. I wish them all the best, and to be honest, who knows what will happen here at CornNation. We are as precariously perched on that precipice as much as everyone else. It’s just not the end of the world for us if we go.
Wisconsin Takes Multiple Shots To The Groin!
Kobe King Announces Departure from Wisconsin Badgers Basketball Program - Bucky’s 5th Quarter
The Badgers second leading scoring is leaving the Wisconsin basketball program.
He’ll miss the Michigan State game on Saturday.
Note that it was the BIG TEN CONFERENCE WHO SUSPENDED DAVISON AND NOT WISCONSIN.
Wisconsin Badgers basketball: Twitter reactions to Kobe King leaving and Brad Davison’s suspension - Bucky’s 5th Quarter
The internet’s bar bathroom’s wall had a lot of thoughts about Badgers basketball tonight.
Kobe King announces decision to leave Wisconsin Badgers program | Wisconsin Badgers Men’s Basketball | madison.com
King, a redshirt sophomore from La Crosse, averaged 10.0 points in 19 games this season and was UW’s leading scorer in Big Ten play (12.6 ppg).
Other News Things
Coach K remembers Kobe, berates fans as Duke beats Pitt
Late in the first half, Duke students began chanting “Come sit with me” to Capel. At halftime, as the players left the floor, Krzyzewski walked over to the student section and scolded the fans, saying of Capel: “He’s one of us.”
Krzyzewski apologized later, but said he’d prefer they not chant at the coach on the opposite bench during a hard-fought game.
Richard Sherman’s Harbaugh comments shouldn’t bother you, but Devin Bush’s on Michigan might - Maize n Brew
The feedback from one of these guys carries a lot more weight than the other.
Steele Chambers one of a few redshirt freshman primed to make an impact in 2020 - Land-Grant Holy Land
The 2019 recruiting class is heading into year two
Rutgers basketball redefining its ceiling with every victory - On the Banks
The Scarlet Knights continue its quest to go dancing in March, as that reality is inching closer and closer.
Jerry Sandusky's ask for shorter sentence rejected
BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- A judge flatly rejected Jerry Sandusky's latest request to have his 30- to 60-year child molestation sentence reduced during a brief hearing Tuesday.
Chris Doleman has passed away - Daily Norseman
Multiple outlets are reporting that defensive end Chris Doleman, who had been fighting brain cancer for the past couple of years, has passed away at the age of 58. This comes just three days after he marked his two-year anniversary of surviving against that cancer.
Tristen Edwards Named to USA Softball Top 50 “Watch List” - University of Nebraska
Senior outfielder Tristen Edwards was one of 50 players nationally named to the preseason USA Softball Player-of-the-Year Watch List, announced on Wednesday. Edwards
Then There’s This
More than 60 years after she accompanied Charlie Starkweather on one of the nation’s most notorious killing sprees, Caril Ann Fugate is seeking a pardon.
I wonder if there are just some things that go on unforgiven by humans, that can only be forgiven by God.
‘Mighty Ducks’ Actor Shaun Weiss Arrested For Burglary While High On Meth, Marysville Police Say – CBS Sacramento
A “Mighty Ducks” star was arrested in Marysville over the weekend for residential burglary and being under the influence of a controlled substance, police said.
Are you a Beatle, a Monkee, or something else?. “Striving for Greatness” is published by Kenneth Jarecke.
Ken linked to my podcast in an article on Medium. I would like to my podcast here, but then it’d be like linkception, you link to link to link and the next thing you know you’re 80 years old and wondering where the time went.
Interesting that Ken says he got feedback. Dadgummit!
I want more feedback on our podcasts. Get to it.