There’s More News But Fewer TV Jobs, Study Says

Here’s some sad news: though TV stations set a record for the amount of news on the air last year, jobs in local TV news dropped 4.3 percent and salaries fell by 4.4 percent in 2008, according to a survey released yesterday. The Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA)/Hofstra University study surveyed all non-satellite TV stations and a random sampling of radio stations.

The typical TV station, the study found:

  • Added half an hour of news per weekday
  • Didn’t change weekend lineups
  • Made a profit on local news (more than half of stations reported that local news is profitable)
  • Cut jobs rather than added jobs (four times as many stations reported cutting jobs)

Hardest-hit by the cuts across the country were reporters, news anchors, weather casters, and sports anchors.

Release after the jump.


Jobs in local television news dropped by 4.3 percent and salaries dropped by 4.4 percent last year. At the same time, stations set a record for the amount of news on the air while the net number of stations originating news declined by only 4 in the past 16 months.
These are the results of the 2009 RTNDA/Hofstra University Annual Survey, released today at the Radio-Television News Directors Association convention in Las Vegas. The survey showed that more than half of stations are making a profit on local news.
“It’s clear that stations are banking on local news to carry them into the future,” said Bob Papper, director of the survey and professor and chair of the department of journalism at Hofstra University. “Television is clearly suffering from the same stress as the entire economy, but stations are by no means giving up on local news.”
Papper said he expects jobs and salaries to continue to decline in 2009, but looks for improvement in 2010.
Among the survey highlights:

Television news shed 1,200 jobs in 2008. The 4.3 percent decline was greater than the 3.8 percent drop in overall U.S. employment. U.S. newspapers reported cutting newsroom staff by 5,900 jobs or 11.3 percent in 2008.
Almost four times as many stations reported cutting jobs as adding jobs.
Hardest hit by salary cuts were news reporters (-13.3 percent), news anchors (-11.5), weather casters (-9.1) and sports anchors (-8.9).
The typical station added a half-hour of local news per weekday in 2008, setting a new record for the amount of news — 4.6 hours per weekday. Weekends stayed the same.
The number of stations running news in 2008 dropped from 774 to 770. So far in 2009, three stations have stopped originating news, but three stations have started or announced plans to start local news, keeping the total at 770.
Of the four stations that stopped originating news in 2008, two are running news from another station. In 2009, two of the three stations that stopped originating news are running news from another station.
Radio staffing stayed the same with the same percentage reporting cuts as those reporting hires, typically of one person.
Radio salaries declined 1.8 percent and the amount of news dropped slightly.

The RTNDA/Hofstra University Survey was conducted the fourth quarter of 2008 among all non-satellite television stations and a random sampling of radio stations. Results on minority and women staffing and digital media will be released later in the year.