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NAB 2009: RTNDA Says Local TV Producing More News With Fewer People

Local TV news is doing more with less. That was the take-away from a new RTNDA/Hofstra survey released at the opening session of the RTNDA convention in Las Vegas in conjunction with NAB.

Local TV news jobs decreased by 4.3% last year (compared to a 3.8% drop in overall U.S. employment, and salaries dropped even more (4.4%). But at the same time stations that were doing news set a record for amount of news they were producing (an average of 4.6 hours a day on weekdays).

But the number of stations doing news decreased by four (from 774 to 770). That number remains even though three more stations have announced they are pulling the plug on news. That's because three have said they were adding it, according to the survey.

According to the survey, TV news lost 1,200 jobs in 2008. But that was not even a quarter of the jobs lost on the print newspaper side (5,900).

Bob Papper, head of the journalism department at Hofstra, who headed the survey said in announcing the results that he expected more cuts in 2009--sadly, that prophecy has already been fulfilled--but looks for "improvement" in 2010, though it was not clear whether that was additions or simply fewer cuts.

The ratio of stations cutting jobs to ones adding jobs was four to one.

Reporters were the hardest hit by salary cuts, with salaries decreasing by 13.3%. News anchors were next at 11.5%, followed by weathercasters at 9.1% and sports anchors 8.9%.

The survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2008.