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Allentown Paper May Become Jewel in Buffett's Crown

Source: The Morning Call

Warren Buffett appears to be interested in bringing his growing Berkshire Hathaway newspaper empire to Allentown, Pennsylvanvia.

The Allentown Morning Call reports that when it asked Buffett if he might buy the newspaper, he replied, "Allentown is our kind of place."

The Morning Call is currently owned by Tribune, which is set to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection by the end of the year.

Amid reports the owners may sell Tribune's print operations, the Morning Call says there's been a lot of speculation about potential buyers.

The newspaper emailed Buffett, and he wrote back, "We haven't heard anything from the Tribune Co, but if the phone rings, I'll answer."

That could be a hint to Tribune that he may indeed be interested. The Morning Call appears to be the kind of newspaper Buffett likes: small.

Buffett doesn't think larger newspapers will be able to fend off competition from other news outlets. However, he has stated his belief that newspapers in small and medium-sized cities with a strong sense of community can make money, by providing local news and information not available elsewhere.

Allentown's daily had an average weekday circulation of almost 84,000 in the six months ending September 30.

Berkshire has been buying papers that meet that description, including the Omaha World-Herald and 63 newspapers owned by Media General.

While employees at the Allentown newspaper may be rooting for Buffett, being part of the Berkshire family is not a guarantee of survival. The 143-year-old News & Messenger in Manassass, Virginia -- one of the 63 papers Berkshire purchased from Media General -- will shut down at the end of this month.

Founded in 1762, Allentown is Pennsylvania's third largest city, with a growing population around 118,000, as of 2010.