First Melinda Gates, now Warren Buffett exit Wash Post board

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.

UPDATE: Everybody loves Steve Burke, even Warren Buffett

Stephen BurkeWhen news of Comcast’s bid for NBC Universal broke on Sept 30 most of the spotlight focused on Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts.

But as the weeks dragged on, some of that spotlight began to shine on his number 2, Stephen Burke, chief operating officer and a former senior Disney executive.

As we now know since the deal was confirmed on Dec 3, NBC Universal’s top brass will report to Burke, making him (once you count the 24 million subscribers he also oversees) one of the most powerful men in TV.

CORRECTED-Sun Valley: YouTube’s most valuable customer

Corrects blog post to show Buffett was talking about YouTube, not Facebook.

Attention YouTube: Warren Buffett wants to give you money.

That’s the word from Liberty Media Chairman John Malone, who sat on a panel about digital media at the Allen & Co confab in Sun Valley on Tuesday.

Malone told reporters on the sidelines of the event that billionaire investor Buffet, aka the Oracle of Omaha, had told him privately that he would be willing to pay $5 a month to use YouTube, the popular video site owned by Google.

YouTube, of course, is a free Web service which makes its money through advertising. But other popular social media like Twitter have yet to generate revenue, and monetizing social networks is a big topic of discussion among the media and tech executives gathered for the conference.

Boston Globe, still alive

When we went to bed late last night, the state of play on The Boston Globe didn’t look so hot. Since then… it’s still not looking so hot.

The short story: Some of the Globe’s union appear to have reached tentative accords with the Globe and its parent company, The New York Times, which has threatened to shut down the money-losing paper if it doesn’t win $20 million in concessions. The Boston Newspaper Guild, which is on the hook for $10 million alone, said it has offered more than it has to, but it appears to not have been enough so far. The Times Co, meanwhile, said it would file a federal government notice that it intends to shut the paper. The big issue? Lifetime job guarantees that the Times wants to eliminate.

Here’s the latest from the sleepless reporters at its smaller competitor, the Boston Herald:

Buffett’s in the cards

buffett-card1.jpgWarren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway sells bricks, candy, car insurance, carpets, ice cream, jewelry, knives, paint and underwear. Many of these items are available for sale at stalls at Berkshire’s well-attended shareholders meeting every year.

In looking for something new to hawk to some 32,000 investors at the meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, this weekend, Berkshire-owned Business Wire will be selling Buffett baseball cards.

About 2,500 packs of “Berkyville Wiredcats” cards will be available. Each pack of six cards will sell for $10. The proceeds will go to Buffett’s favorite local charity, the CASA of Douglas County, Nebraska. CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, is an organization for abused and neglected children within the court system.