It has been a busy week for followers of media stocks, with nearly all of the big names unveiling their latest quarterly snapshots. Today, the stage was set for Knight Ridder (NYSE:KRI), the industry's No. 2 player, which capped off the earnings parade by announcing first-quarter net income (including a $7.3 million tax benefit) of $60.5 million, an 8.2% increase from then previous year. Thanks to a reduced share count, earnings climbed 13% to $0.79.

Like Dow Jones (NYSE:DJ) yesterday, Knight Ridder only managed to report top-line growth in the low single digits, with revenues rising 1.7% to $724.7 million. Declining circulation revenues were offset by higher ad sales, which ticked up 3.3% to $566.1 million. Employment did most of the heavy lifting, with a solid 16.5% gain. As has been the case, though, spending by large national advertisers was restrained, with five of the company's nine largest markets posting double-digit declines last month. Echoing earlier comments from Gannett (NYSE:GCI), auto advertising was exceptionally weak, dropping 6.1%.

Knight-Ridder, again like Dow Jones, also lacks a portfolio of television stations or cable networks to fall back on whenever print advertising is stuck in the doldrums. Rival E.W. Scripps (NYSE:SSP), for example, recently reported that its networks -- which include Home & Garden TV and the Food Network -- delivered strong advertising revenue and profit growth in excess of 30%. It does, however, have a stake in online job site, a joint venture with Gannett and Tribune (NYSE:TRB).

The giant career website maintains more than 600,000 job openings and has built a database of 10 million resumes. During the quarter, revenues from the network spiked 88% to $107.1 million, with a 34% jump in the number of unique visitors. Overall revenues from the company's online operations surged 52.8%. Its recent investment in Palo Alto Daily News Group, a collection of free papers distributed in Southern California, is also attracting advertising dollars, with reported revenue growth in the mid-30% range.

Knight Ridder's operating margins contracted slightly during the quarter and stand near the lower end of the spectrum in the industry. The company does own a stake in several newsprint mills, though, which should help alleviate rising costs (newsprint prices rose another 8.1% in the quarter).

Today's results mark the best first quarter for advertising revenue at Knight Ridder since 2000. If the trend continues, then the company -- which trades at a discount to most of its competitors -- may again deliver returns in the black for shareholders.

Fool contributor Nathan Slaughter owns none of the companies mentioned.