First Melinda Gates, now Warren Buffett exit Wash Post board

January 20, 2011

WarrenBuffettWarren Buffett has always had a sweet spot in his heart for newspapers. Until he didn’t. In recent years, Buffet — once a paper boy, now a newspaper owner — has been quite vocal about the prospects of the industry.  For instance in 2009 during a Berkshire Hathaway gathering in Omaha he told investors that  the newspaper industry  had the possibility of  “unending losses” and that Berkshire would not buy most newspapers in the U.S.  at any price.

Buffett, who owns the Buffalo News and has deep ties with the Washington Post, just cut another string of attachment to the industry: After nearly 40 years, Buffett said he is leaving the board of the Washington Post Co.

As my colleague Ben Berkowtiz reported, Buffett has been dialing back on his board commitments, choosing to devote more time to Berkshire Hathaway.

Buffet’s departure comes at the heels of another high-profile board member Melina Gates, who left the Washington Post board in November. With the newspaper  industry in decline — it has yet to enjoy the bounce-back in advertising enjoyed by other media like television — the Washington Post is suffering like its peers. Even worse, the company’s cash cow the Kaplan education division is in danger of getting hit by government rules that could impact the business.

While Buffett and Washington Post chief executive Donald Graham, whose family owns the Washington Post, said in a statement that Buffett will still be available to advise the education and media company, the lastest move has got to sting.

(Photo: Reuters)

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