Stop spreading the news
Billionaire Warren Buffett has thrown in the towel on his newspaper empire. Last Wednesday, Buffett’s multi- national conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway, announced it was selling all of its newspapers to Lee Enterprises Inc. for $140 million.
Lee will acquire BH Media Group, which owns more than 100 weekly publications and 30 daily newspapers—including The Daily Progress. The company has been managing BH’s papers since 2018.
Last October, Progress staff formed a union, The Blue Ridge NewsGuild, in part because of concern about Lee’s history of layoffs, outsourcing, and pay cuts at the papers it manages. And now that Lee officially owns the Progress, the union has expressed greater concern about the future of the paper.
In a statement on its website, the union says it found “some hope” when Lee executives emphasized “their mission to deliver high-quality local news, information, and advertising” during a recent conference call. “We look forward to hearing more about Lee’s strategies for ensuring the sustainability of the Progress and other newspapers around the country,” the union said.
Buffett’s announcement did not come as a surprise. Though he has long been a staunch supporter of the newspaper business (his first job was a newspaper delivery boy for The Washington Post), he’s expressed concern over the serious decline in newspaper advertising revenue over the past two decades, with internet giants like Google and Facebook sucking up most advertising sales.
Excluding The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, Buffet ultimately believes all newspapers are “going to disappear,” he told Yahoo Finance last April.
Quote of the Week
“We need to pay attention to the tech crunch that’s coming in Charlottesville. These high-paying jobs are going to bring people with high salaries, and they’re going to push people out of the city.”
—Local resident and activist Tanesha Hudson, addressing City Council about the construction of the CODE building downtown
Don’t have a cow
City Council voted 3-2 on Monday to approve a signage plan for the new Dairy Central development, including the installation of a mural on a wall facing 10th Street NW. The Board of Architectural Review approved the 61-foot-long design, an apparent homage to a cow statue that used to stand in front of the former Monticello Dairy building. Councilor Michael Payne and Mayor Nikuyah Walker voted against the plan, citing comments by residents of the historically black 10th and Page neighborhood nearby, who asked for a design that might better “represent the history of the neighborhood.”
Charlottesville-based social club Common House has announced plans for a third location, this time in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A former YMCA will now house a podcast studio, bocce court, and steam room for members paying $1,800 per year, plus a $300 initiation fee. Fortune magazine reports that once-rugged Chattanooga, where one out of every 4.8 residents lives in poverty, is “transforming into a tech hub,” while local activists have organized to combat a “crisis of housing.” Sound familiar?
Too much smoke
The American Lung Association gave Virginia four Fs and a D in its annual State of Tobacco Control report, released this week. As youth vaping continues to spark panic around the country, the Old Dominion was chastised for feeble tobacco taxes and prevention programs, and weak smoke-free workplace laws. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
After five years on the job, Charlene Green is stepping down from her position as manager of the Office of Human Rights, and joining the Piedmont Housing Alliance, where she will serve as deputy director, reports The Daily Progress. Green first joined city staff in 2010, when she became program coordinator for the city’s Dialogue on Race, leading to the creation of OHR. She is now the eighth high-profile city official to call it quits since Tarron Richardson became city manager last May.