The latest RTDNA/Hofstra University Annual Survey found that TV news staffing shot up in 2011 — adding 1,131 jobs — to reach total full-time employment of 27,653. That total is the second-highest ever and more hiring is projected for 2012.
With the hiring of 1,131 additional anchors, reporters, producers and other news staffers, employment in local TV newsrooms in the U.S. grew 4.3% to 27,653 in 2011, the second highest total on record, according to the latest annual survey by RTDNA and Hofstra University.
The top year for station news staffing was 2000, according to RTDNA/Hofstra records.
However, because the number of news producing stations had fallen to 725 in 2011, the average staffing for the newsroom for the year — 38.2 — is an all-time high, RTDNA/Hofstra said.
News staffing could get even bigger this year. More than a third of the stations (36.7%) said they expected to increase their staff in 2012, while only 2.4% expected to decrease it. About half (54.6%) expected it to stay the same.
Because of duopolies and other news sharing arrangements between stations, the 725 newsrooms produce news for 967 stations, RTDNA/Hofstra said.
The average number of news employees in 2011 varied widely by market size. The average was 67.7 employees in markets 1-25, but dropped to 46.7 in markets 26-50, 39 in markets 51-100, 26.5 in markets 101-150 and 19.5 in markets 150 plus.
The survey found that 76.7% of news budgets in 2011 either increased or stayed the same compared to 2010.
The percentage of stations reporting that their news operation was profitable was 59.6% — the highest level since 1998. Another 7.7% said they were breaking even, 3.7% said they were losing money and 29.3% said they “didn’t know.”
The stations said that, on average, news accounted for 48.2% of total revenue. The percentage rose as the market size became smaller, with stations in the top 25 markets reporting that 39.2% of revenue derived from news and those in markets 151-plus saying that 57.1% came from news.