Cost Cutting Drives Newspaper Publisher Media General’s Profit

Despite heavy losses and layoffs over the past year, newspaper publishers are starting to show positive numbers as the fourth quarter earnings results trickle in.

Virginia-based Media General Inc. (MEG), publisher of The Tampa Tribune and Richmond Times-Dispatch posted a profit for the fourth quarter, reporting net income of $27.4 million for the last part of 2009.

Although revenues for the company were down, so were operating expenses — due in part to a reduction in force and other “aggressive” cost-cutting measures. Explained CEO Marshall N. Morton:

“We had nearly 900 fewer employees at the end of 2009 compared with 2008 year-end, and we implemented a five-day furlough program in the 2009 fourth quarter.”

Morton’s outlook for 2010 was actually pretty sunny, considering the grim fate of the media industry recently. Thanks to the publisher’s already reorganized “market-based structure” and lower cost base, Media General hopes to make gains throughout the year helped along by the recovering economy, revenues from the Winter Olympics, which are being broadcast on the NBC affiliate stations it owns, and political revenues.

Read more: Earnings press release

Previously: Possible Job Cuts Ahead As Media General Mulls Consolidation