Employment down, anchor salaries stagnant in local TV newsrooms

July 23, 2014

Pew Research Center

Despite increased budgets and an optimistic advertising market, anchor salaries and employment were down throughout local television newsrooms in 2013, Katerina Matsa reported for Pew Research Center Wednesday.

The Pew report was based on a survey of 1,300 local news directors published by RTDNA and Hofstra University.

A little more than half of local TV news directors nationwide reported that their budgets increased in 2013, but the number of full-time jobs fell to about 27,300, down 400 from 2012, according to the report. When news directors added new employees to the staff, they were most likely to hire producers and reporters, according to the study.

These budget increases weren’t reflected in anchor salaries, however. Median anchor salaries fell by $1,500 in 2013, going from $64,000 to $62,500. But reporters saw a slight pay increase, from 30,000 in 2012 to 31,000 in 2013. And employees in charge of producing graphics saw their pay increase during 2013.

The staffers who saw the largest increase in pay (10%) in 2013 were the stations’ graphic specialists, highlighting the growing value of those skilled at producing better storytelling TV visuals.”

These changes come at a time when stations are relying on newscasts to generate funds, according to the report. News brought in about half  of the average total revenue for local TV stations, 10 percent more than it did in 2002.

Despite decreases in employment, local television is still the leading news source for most Americans. A Pew study published earlier this year showed that three out of four U.S. adults watch local TV newscasts, which outpace both network news (65 percent) and cable news (38 percent).