Stability at the ProJo?

The Providence Journal's parent company, Dallas-based A.H. Belo, posted a fourth-quarter profit of some $5.6 million, according to figures released Friday. It was the first quarterly profit for the newspaper company since it spun off from the larger Belo Corporation, which owns television stations across the country, two years ago.

Of course, the company still has plenty of challenges. As a new piece in the Providence Business News notes, advertising revenue for the ProJo is down by half since 2006. And the company reported an annual loss of $107 million for 2009. But A.H. Belo's stock price moved up Friday as investors reacted to the news of the fourth-quarter profit.

At least one knowledgeable observer, Wick Allison at D Magazine in Dallas, is almost bullish on the company:

From studying the figures, it appears to me Belo has nowhere to go but up. The only risk factor is higher newsprint costs, but even that would not be a big deal. If it starts to regain some of the 30% it has lost in advertising over the past two years, things could be rosy indeed.

So what does this mean for ProJo readers? Well, it's probably too early to tell. In the short term, at least, it appears there will be some stability. But don't expect a dozen new hires in the newsroom. To wit: sources say they do not expect the paper to replace Carol Young, deputy executive editor and champion of local news, who is retiring at the end of month.

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