Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Local TV Employs More News People Than Newspapers

UPDATE 4/17/18 12 NOON:  This story has been edited and updated to reflect correct data associated with the 2018 Survey.  We apologize any confusion and regret the error.)

According to the 2018 Local News Staffing Report conducted by Bob Papper, Professor Emeritus - Hofstra University and by Radio Television Digital News Association, total local TV news employment has surpassed total daily newspaper employment for the first time in the more than 24 years this survey has been conducted.

The latest RTDNA/Hofstra University Survey has found that total local TV news employment has surpassed total newspaper employment for the first time in more than 20 years of research.

The average TV newsroom has had more staffers than the average daily newspaper for a few years. Now, for the first time in the history of this survey, total local TV newsroom employment appears to have surpassed total daily newspaper employment.

Historically, the survey has compared TV employment with newspaper employment as compiled by the American Society of News Editors (ASNE). However, as of 2016, ASNE no longer calculates total newspaper employment. This year’s calculation was provided by newspaper consultant and Newsonomics founder Ken Doctor, who puts total newspaper employment at 24,000 to 25,000, compared to local TV news employment of 27,100 according to the latest RTDNA/Hofstra University Survey.

Total local TV news employment dropped 1.8% over the last year, from 27,600 employees to 27,100. Part of the loss comes from continuing consolidation in local TV news – a net loss of two local newsrooms this past year. There’s also been a small decrease in both the average newsroom size (down 0.1 from a year ago) and the median size (down 2 people from a year ago), in part due to a skew in reporting this year toward smaller market stations.

However, local TV news remains close to its peak employment of 27,900 in 2001, and the average local TV newsroom’s 40.4 full-time staff (or a median of 33) is just below the all-time high of 40.9 (median 35) in 2015.

The 2018 RTDNA/Hofstra University Survey also shows  the typical or median radio news operation had a full-time news staff of one, a number that has remained consistent over the last two decades or more.

Radio news remains highly centralized, with the typical radio news director overseeing the news on an average of 2.5 or median of 2 stations. Those numbers are identical to the past two years’ data. All told, 84.1% of all multi-station local groups operate with a centralized newsroom. That’s down 1 from 2016’s 85.2%.

Only about 7% of radio news directors oversee news for a station outside their own market. That’s up from 2016’s 5%, but the same as in 2015. More news directors and general managers reported that just one station or one station in the group does local news, but the average and median number of stations that a news director oversees remained at 2.5 and 2, respectively.

Stations running local news run the full gamut of programming. Of the 535 stations in the survey that run local news (and noted their programming):
  • 21.3% program some form of country music
  • 11.4% are news/talk
  •   9.5% are CHR (contemporary hit radio)
  •   9.2% are adult contemporary
  •   8.4% are rock
  •   7.5% are all news
  •   6.9% are music/variety/full service
  •   5.9% are oldies
  •   3.2% are sports
  •   2.8% are CCM (contemporary Christian music)
  •   2.6% are talk
  •   2.1% are AAA (adult album alternative)
  •   Then we have 10 different formats (including jazz, ethnic, urban, gospel, etc.)… all under 2% each
The difficulty in tracking the amount of local news is the variance that some all news stations can bring to the data. Looks like we have one or two fewer major market all news or news/talk stations this year. Still, overall, the numbers are fairly similar to the last few years. The weekday average rose by 8 minutes; the median went up by 7. Numbers plunged on the weekend, which is where we really see the loss of those all news and news/talk stations. 

Commercial stations were almost twice as likely as non-commercial stations to have added a newscast in the past year. 

Generally, the smaller the market but the bigger the local group, the more likely to have added a newscast. All market sizes were about the same except major markets, which were noticeably less likely to have added a newscast. Geography made no difference. The percentage of stations cutting a newscast fell 1.2 from a year ago. Commercial stations were almost twice as likely as non-commercial ones to cut a newscast. Generally, the smaller the market, the more likely that a station cut a newscast.

Click Here To Read More and to Download The Report

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