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RTDNA Study: Local TV News Staffing Down

A new RTDNA study conducted by the Syracuse University’s Newhouse School found that local TV newsroom employment has dropped by 6.3 percent from gains in the previous year.

Released last week, the study showed 2020’s record high of 28,000 full-time newsroom employees dropped to almost 26,000 in 2021.

Full-time digital staff, however, is holding steady, said the study. 

The survey also reported that the use of MMJ’s, multi-media journalists, is up slightly, but not necessarily in the top 25 markets.

The biggest drops in full-time newsroom employment in 2021, some 8.5 percent, came in markets 151 and higher, followed by markets 26 to 50 which saw a 7.7 percent decrease. 

Top 25 markets saw a 4.1 percent decrease in full-time staff.

Across, the board, the number of part-time employees also went down.

The lone bright spot:  markets 51 to 150 which increased “ever so slightly” in full-time local TV newsroom employment.

Four local newsrooms actually shuttered operations, a fact which impacted the study’s numbers.  

The actual number of local TV newsrooms fell from 710 to 707 in 2021.

But the survey also showed that local TV news directors are optimistic about hiring in 2022. 

“The percentage expecting to add staff is up a whopping 18 points from last year,” said the study.

RTDNA said it was highest level since it started tracking the question in the past two decades.

The top three replacement hire categories (in order) are MMJ’s, producers, and anchor/anchor-reporters.

Reporters were fourth.

The study said two-thirds of all new TV newsroom hires were in three positions, with digital hires being the biggest category, followed by a two-way tie for second between MMJ’s and producers.

You can read more of the study’s findings and the methodology used to conduct the survey here.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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