“I consider myself a journalist to some extent,” the 84-year-old billionaire said in a video interview premiering Thursday night as part of the “Iconic Voices” series at Arizona State University. “I say, ‘Is the Washington Post Co. worth $22 a share?’ in 1973. I say, ‘Is the BNSF railroad worth us paying $34 billion?’ I assign myself the story. It’s my working hypothesis that it is. But then I go and look for the facts.”
Over the past five decades, Buffett built Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire into one of the most valuable companies in the world through stock picks and takeovers. Its operations now include insurers, electric utilities, manufacturers, retailers and one of the largest U.S. railroads. It also has a stock portfolio valued at more than $100 billion.
While newspapers have long been part of the Berkshire stable, they’ve become a smaller portion. Three decades ago, the Buffalo News was one of the largest units and worthy of its own section in the company’s annual report. These days, Berkshire doesn’t provide detailed results for its media unit, which includes 30 dailies.
In the interview, conducted by former Forbes publisher and ASU journalism and business professor Jeff Cunningham, Buffett reiterated his prediction that newspaper circulation and earnings would continue to decline in the U.S.