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(DailyFinance.com) — Maybe Les Hinton did deserve that publisher of the year award after all. Anyone who can take a newspaper from a loss of more than $80 million in one year to a profit in the next year — and in this economy, no less — deserves some kind of prize.

And that’s exactly what the Journal says Hinton did, sort of. Officially, no one there will comment on writer Sarah Ellison’s claim, in an upcoming book about the paper, that it lost $87 million* in fiscal 2009, ended in June of last year.

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