The Below-the-Radar Impact on Local Newsers: Still Employed, But Making Less

250px-wfla2007The report on TVSpy today is eye-opening. Sources telling TVSpy that producers at WFLA/Tampa (all producers… everyone) were called in and given an offer they couldn’t refuse: resign. Was the Media General station unveiling some kind of new automated producing software? No. Producers were told they could apply for their jobs. Hmmm… Okay, quick show of hands: how many of you local newsers think the new jobs pay MORE than the old jobs?

According to the ShopTalk post, WFLA news director Don North “promised the producers new deals. But, as you might imagine, the suspicion factor is running high, and whether they’ll ever see those new contracts. So folks at this Media General station are sitting out the next 90 days in shock, wondering what happens next.
This was a tough spot for those producers.”

Don North's Letter/From TVSpy

Don North's Letter/From TVSpy

And it’s not just in Tampa. Reporters in markets like Miami and NYC are reporting offer-you-can’t-refuse moments in meetings with bosses: take less pay, or we’ll get rid of you. What choice to you have in this climate? But the paycuts are obviously under-reported, as few people call the newspaper to announce they’ve just taken a salary cut.

It makes you wonder just how widespread this really is.


Filed under Cutbacks

3 responses to “The Below-the-Radar Impact on Local Newsers: Still Employed, But Making Less

  1. Chris

    The ‘unintended consequence’ of the carnage across all media is the effect it will have on J-schools. Colleges and universities have Journalism programs with kids who are wondering what awaits them ‘on the other side.’ Is it worth having J-schools any more? Is the cost-benefit even there? It might be a good subject for a blog entry to investigate the top Journalism schools…what the enrollment trend is; what job prospects are like; how the curriculum is changing. It’s tough to justify spending big bucks for a J-school degree if the industry cannot support you when you graduate. I’m speaking not only about TV news, but about radio and newspapers as well. There’s no ‘soft landing spot’ anywhere to be seen, and portraying this as some sort of ‘down cycle’ is a misnomer because it suggests that things will get better.

  2. Kim

    To Chris above- when I graduated from J-school in 2004, we all graduated with full knowledge that we would make very little money out of school, and the job market wasn’t wonderful. Most of the reporters (our school was known for turning out good on-cam folks) were making between 14,900 and 22,000 straight out of school. That’s not a massive amount of money.

    I think kids will still go to J-school if they really want to be in tv. The problem is that when they realize how HARD it is, and they inevitably try to move on to that cushy job in the sales department… that’s the job that won’t be there for them, and won’t be as lucrative.

  3. Kim,

    I’m not sure “cushy” is a word I’d use for any job in TV at the moment. The sales folk certainly are under incredible stress right now, with tremendous pressure to find new accounts to make up for the massive losses at local stations. A station I’m familiar with recently put all its sales people into a room with a bank of phone calls and orders: cold call until you find us some money.

    When you go from expense-account lunches to working a cold-calling room, things are tough all over.


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