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TV job losses may be slowing

The bleeding of on-air TV news jobs by the recession may be slowing down, with TV journalists in 2009 apparently losing positions at about two-thirds the rate they did in 2008.

TV job losses may be slowing

TV job losses may be slowing

From January to June, on-air TV news experienced a net job loss of 401: 1,006 fewer TV journalists were working, while 605 entered new positions. If the rate continues, that’s a potential job loss of 800 for the year, compared to the approximately 1,200 jobs lost during 2008.

The numbers regarding local news anchors and reporters are from the Vocus Database, which lists major North American outlets and journalists. The database includes 2,082 local broadcast television stations in the United States and Canada and 9,086 television anchors and reporters.

Approximately 1,200 TV journalists lost their jobs in 2008, according to a survey of more than 300 TV news directors by the Radio-Television News Directors Association. Bob Papper, chairman of the Journalism, Media Studies, and Public Relations Department at Hofstra University, has conducted the survey for 15 years.

In an e-mail interview, Papper said, “Layoffs clearly continue, but the number of stations involved has slowed, and the numbers involved have dropped. Your figures back that up.” The Vocus Database shows 1,264 on-air TV journalists lost or left their jobs in 2008.

The economy was not the only reason for the decline in the number of working television journalists. Some voluntarily left the industry for other professions such as public relations. Others are waiting for non-compete clauses to end before they can work again, a phenomena occurring in good and bad economic times

Papper said for the rest of this year, “I think we’ll see some weekend morning newscasts cut with some drop in personnel and/or redeployment.”

Local news, however, remains a critical part of the future of local stations, he said. “Until that changes, layoffs will be moderate, and I expect an increase in staffing again in 2010,” he said.

–Michael Blankenheim

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