Census of Journalists

In 2010, PRNDI carried out the first-ever headcount of all journalists working in U.S. local public radio and television stations.

The stations targeted were those qualified for CPB funding. Journalists were defined as anyone with a primary responsibility for the daily gathering, preparation or presentation of local news content.

The study was sponsored by the CPB to set benchmarks for future tracking of journalism employment in public media. Subsequent headcounts are included in CPB Station Activity Surveys.

Selected data provided here is used by permission of CPB.

2010 Census Results

Public radio and TV stations reported a total of 3222 news professionals.

2010 CPB Staff by Station Type.001

52% of journalists were based at radio stations. 28% were at TV stations. The remainder were employed by joint licensees (radio + TV).

62% of all the journalists were employed full time.

2010 CPB Staff Type x Station Type.001

The census also reported a total of 2769 non-professionals helping in newsrooms.

Journalist Work Status

Professionals

Non-Professionals

Totals

Full-Time

2013

2013

Part-Time

541

541

Contractor

668

668

Student/Intern

1361

1361

Volunteer

1177

1177

Other

231

231

Totals

3222

2769

5991

 Journalists by Job Title

The 2010 census of journalist found hundreds of different job titles among local news personnel. The researchers sorted the professionals into seven primary roles to get an estimated head count by job title.

Professionals_by_Job_Titles.001

Journalists by Primary and Secondary Roles

The 2010 census also categorized local public media journalists according to their primary duties or roles. In some cases the primary duties were different than the job title suggested. For example, some people bearing the title of manager reported primary duties as producing or presenting.

The two most prevalent roles — reporting and producing — were equally prevalent (28%). They were followed by presenting (17%) and managing (14%). Editing and online were not primary duties at most stations.

2010 CPB Primary Roles.001

The census also sought to categorize professional journalists by their secondary duties.

58% of journalists split their time between a primary and secondary role.

2010 CPB Secondary Roles.001

 

Use of Work Hours on Local Journalism

The 2010 census gathered information on how many hours per week individual journalists were paid to do their primary and secondary roles. A total of 2500 individuals were analyzed, accounting for 73,249 hours of news work in the average week.

Primary duties gobbled up three fourths of the work hours (55,534 per week).

The distribution of these hours varied according to the type of station. For example, reporting was the dominant use of primary duty hours in radio stations, while producing took the most primary work hours in TV stations.

Primary_Hours

Secondary duties accounted for a quarter of the work hours in local public media newsrooms (17,714 per week). As with primary hours, the difference between station types is notable. For example, in TV, many people do non-news related work as part of their jobs. In radio stations, it appears many people switch from reporting to presenting, or vice versa. They also switch to producing… and editing.

Secondary_Hours

Online Work is bundled with other work

The charts above showing the prevalence of primary and secondary roles reveal very few workers devoted specifically to online news. In 2010, only 2% of local public media journalists had a job doing primarily online work; and only 3% listed online as a secondary role. However, the census asked each journalist to indicate the “news platform” for which they had responsibilities. This revealed, at the time, that two thirds of journalists had some role in online news production or delivery — mostly as an extension of their broadcast duties. Only 3% said they focused solely on online platforms.

2010 CPB Platform Roles Radio.001

Local News Professionals by Gender and Race

One can conclude that local public media have a ways to go before they more accurately reflect the racial and gender make-up of the population.

In 2010, the female percentage of the local news workforce was 45%.

gender

Meanwhile, the percentage of the workforce that is white, non-Hispanic was 80%. (The 2010 U.S. Census showed the white, non-Hispanic population at 64%)

race_pie

NPR Stations Continue Growing Local News

A new survey by MVM Consulting shows NPR member stations around the U.S. are growing their local news staffs, increasing their local news airtime, and beefing up their local online news content.

The survey reveals high levels of actual growth last year and similar levels of predicted growth this year.

Expansion of Local NPR Newsroom Staffing

The growth begins with news staffing. More than 40% of NPR member stations grew their full-time local news staffs slightly or significantly in 2012.

2012 NPR Staff Change.001
While 50% reported no change, only 8% saw decreases in staffing.

Looking ahead to 2013, another 38% of NPR stations are optimistic they’ll be growing full-time news staffs. Only 4% expect they’ll be downsizing. The largest share, 58%, expect to maintain current levels of newsroom staffing.

2013 NPR Staff Change.001
These are healthy signs — even healthier than the growth estimates of 2010, when a similar survey found a fourth (27%) of all public radio stations grew their local news staffing, while 14% had cut back during the national recession.

Major Increases in Online Content

The survey also found an ummistakeable emphasis on advancing local news online.

Almost two-thirds of local NPR stations say they increased (slightly or significantly) their local online news content last year.

2012 NPR Online Change.001
That growth emphasis continues in projections for 2013. Seventy-one percent of stations say they expect to increase their local online news offerings this year.

2013 NPR Online Change.001

Local News Airtime on the Upswing

The survey also asked station leaders about changes in the amount of local news or public affairs on air.

While 60% reported no change in 2012, a third of stations said they expanded local news on air.

2012 NPR Air Time Change.001
And, as with staffing and online content, the trend is predicted to continue in 2013. Forty-five percent of stations say they will increase local news airtime this year.

2013 NPR Air Time Change.001

About the Survey

The 2012 Survey of Stations was conducted by Michael V. Marcotte of MVM Consulting in coordination with the University of Nevada School of Journalism, where Marcotte is a visiting professor. Collaborating on the invitation only, online survey was PhD candidate Sandra Evans of The Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California. 136 stations participated, 103 of them were NPR members.

NPR Stations See Need to Improve Local Online News

New survey results from MVM Consulting show NPR stations far less satisfied with their online local news than with their local news on air.

The data show 72% of NPR stations are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their on air local news programming. Only 10% were at all dissatisfied with the broadcast product.

2012 MVM NPR Satisfaction On Air.001
But when the same question was asked about each station’s online local news content, the responses were far less effusive. A third of stations expressed dissatisfaction.

2012 MVM NPR Satisfaction Online.001
As reported earlier, stations are reporting efforts to expand their online news staffing and content. But for now there’s a significant gap between their levels of satisfaction, radio versus online.

The 2012 Survey of Stations was conducted by Michael V. Marcotte of MVM Consulting in coordination with the University of Nevada School of Journalism, where Marcotte is a visiting professor. Collaborating on the invitation only, online survey was PhD candidate Sandra Evans of The Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California. 136 stations participated, 103 of them were NPR members.

Attributes of Local NPR Stations: Online Content

Our 2012 survey of local public media newsrooms shows that most stations still have rather stunted commitments to local news online.

The charts in this post provide a break-out of NPR member station findings. (To see all public media results, see this summary piece.)

We begin with this overview picture of online content commitments. The chart is stacked from most prevalent to least prevalent content types (ascertained by gauging “commitment levels” to these options).

MVM 2012 NPR ONLINE Means.001

These 2012 data are similar to the findings gathered in 2010 (though not directly comparable, due to adjustments in methodology).

It should be noted that, while many stations show limited commitments to online news, the survey found a pent up dissatisfaction with online news. That data is here.

What follows is a chart by chart review of these online content types.

Audio

Radio stations specialize in providing audio, so this content type gets the greatest adherence by local public radio newsrooms. Almost two thirds of them have high or very high resource commitments to audio online.

2012 MVM NPR AUDIO.001

Text

Text is the dominant form of communicating news online. The degree of commitment to online text by local newsrooms is tantamount to their overall degree of commitment to online local news. Half of stations are there in a big way. A quarter of stations are doing very little.

2012 MVM NPR TEXT.001

Facebook

Forty percent of stations are highly committed to Facebook as a platform for local news. Another 32% have a medium level commitment.

2012 MVM NPR FACEBOOK.001

Photos

Radio newsrooms are gradually employing their eyes, not just their ears, in their news gathering. So far, only a third have a high commitment to photography in their digital news.

2012 MVM NPR PHOTOS.001

Twitter

Twitter is increasing its importance to local NPR station newsrooms. Commitment to the micro-blogging service is now almost as high as Facebook.

2012 MVM NPR TWITTER.001

Online Comments

As we continue down the list of online content types, there’s a big drop in commitment levels here in looking at online comments. Three quarters of the NPR stations show a low or lower devotion to managing the online comments of others.

2012 MVM NPR COMMENTS.001

Slideshows

While photographic slideshows pair well with audio news stories, local NPR stations express an overall low commitment to slideshows.

2012 MVM NPR SLIDESHOWS.001

Blogging

The NPR Argo Project advanced the virtues of local newsroom blogging on specialized content, but the overall system is not rushing to the use of local news blogging. Only 16% of stations claim a high or very high commitment. Over 70% of stations are on the low end of the chart.

2012 MVM NPR BLOGGING.001

Video

Considered one of the most shareable and promising forms of digital content, videos are also largely ignored by NPR station newsrooms. Three fourths of stations show low, very low or non-existent commitment to video.

2012 MVM NPR VIDEO.001

Other Social Media

Facebook and Twitter got high usage by local public radio stations, but other social networks… not so much.

2012 MVM NPR OTHER SOCIAL.001

Maps

Local news stories are greatly enhanced when we use all our digital muscles to convey information and drive interactivity. Maps are a great example of this. However, at least two-thirds of local NPR newsrooms are doing very little to take advantage of maps in their online journalism.

2012 MVM NPR MAPS.001

Data Visualization

Data visualization, like maps, help tell online stories and make complicated data simple to understand. A whopping 83% percent of local public radio newsrooms are largely bypassing data visualization content.

2012 MVM NPR DATA VIZ.001

User Generated Content

Very few stations are endeavoring to cull content provided by the public.

2012 MVM NPR UGC.001

Crowd Sourcing

We thought this chart on crowd sourcing might have higher levels of commitment because of the Public Insight Network that many stations are using for news research. But the commitment levels are among the lowest of all online content types in the survey.

2012 MVM NPR CROWD.001

Online Polls

The least popular of online content types is the online poll. Almost 90% of station newsrooms have better things to do.

2012 MVM NPR POLLS.001

About the Survey

The 2012 Survey of Stations was conducted by Michael V. Marcotte of MVM Consulting in coordination with the University of Nevada School of Journalism, where Marcotte is a visiting professor. Collaborating on the invitation only, online survey was PhD candidate Sandra Evans of The Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California. 136 stations participated, 103 of them were NPR members.

Attributes of Local NPR Stations: On Air Content

Our new survey of local public media newsrooms finds a solid commitment to daily coverage, a broad effort to provide depth coverage, and rather sporadic levels of deep engagement and intensive production.

The charts below provide a break-out of NPR member station survey responses on their depth of commitment to local news broadcast elements. (To see all public media results, see this overview piece.)

Two years ago, we took a look at what local NPR stations were calling local news on their airwaves. While we modified the survey and the analysis somewhat, in general the picture looks quite similar.

Here is the stack of local news program types we asked about in the 2012 Survey of Stations (MVM/UNR/USC 2012) — ranked by their mean score. The higher the score, the more prevalent the commitment of resources to this programming type.

MVM 2012 NPR On Air Means.001

This hierarchy of commitments ranks about the same as it did in 2010 — though, as mentioned, the methodology changed to cover more program types and to give us a more refined look.

Here are the charts for each program type.

Interviews

Interviews are such a key element of original news gathering, it’s great to see they rank highest among all NPR stations as a local news staple.

2012 MVM NPR Interviews.001

Newscasts

Most stations are heavily vested in newscasts as the vehicle for their local news.

2012 MVM NPR Newscasts.001

News Features

The 3-5 minute feature is a fundamental unit of news in public radio, which devotes more time to issue coverage. Over half the NPR stations have a high or very high commitment to feature reporting.

2012 MVM NPR Features.001

Breaking News

Breaking news coverage ranks a lot higher than one might guess, given the emphasis on depth coverage on NPR stations. Yet, these radio stations are assuming a larger role in the daily coverage of their communities and that requires some willingness to get on top of breaking news.

2012 MVM NPR Breaking News.001

Beat Reporting

Beat reporting is a sign of a depth and commitment to original journalism. This is less of a program type than it is an organizational approach to news, but it is fundamental to how news is gathered, packaged and presented. Since beats generally require larger newsrooms, there’s a divide in the data.

2012 MVM NPR Beats.001

News Series

Another sign of healthy commitment to depth of coverage is the “news series,” where a topic is too big to be covered in one report, so it is managed in multiple installments. A quarter of stations have a high or very high commitment to series.

2012 MVM NPR Series.001

Specialty Programs

Local stations serve their communities well when they can tailor content to meet local needs. This category shows a rather healthy commitment to specialty programs — whether they be segments on arts, health, business, etc. Sometimes these elements are more attractive to sponsors, which may help fuel wider adoption.

2012 MVM NPR Specialty Prog.001

On Air Calendars

These on-air calendar of events used to be a larger staple of public radio. websites are better at delivering that kind of information. However, many small stations still provide them.

2012 MVM NPR Calendar.001

Talk Shows

This chart is rather flat indicating that talk shows are not uniformly popular in public radio. But they rank as high or very high commitments from almost a third of stations. In general, talk shows indicate a station’s larger staffing commitment to local news and public affairs.

2012 MVM NPR Talk Show.001

News Specials

This chart shows a low commitment to this kind of local news programming. The news special is typically a timely, one-off, intensively produced program. News stations don’t need to resort to news specials if they are doing a good job of daily coverage, feature coverage, series coverage, beat coverage, etc.

2012 MVM NPR News Specials.001

PSA’s

Public Service Announcements aren’t news but they fulfill a local community service commitment, and sometimes they are handled by newsrooms. More than half of stations have little or no commitment to them.

2012 MVM NPR PSA.001

Town Hall Meetings

In an age of social media, the town hall meeting is more anachronistic than ever. Seventy percent of NPR member stations make little or no commitment to hosting or airing them.

2012 MVM NPR Town Hall.001

Live Reports or Live Remotes

Radio is a medium for immediacy, but two-thirds of local NPR stations are hardly committed to this form of news coverage.

2012 MVM NPR Live Reports.001

On Air Magazines

Most stations don’t produce on-air news magazines, which tend to be labor intensive. Yet, a fourth of stations do have the resources or commitment to produce them.

2012 MVM NPR On Air Magazine.001

Documentaries

The local radio news documentary has been a fading form for years. The most remarkable thing in this chart is that some 12% of stations are committed to them.

2012 MVM NPR Documentaries.001

Commentaries

Radio commentaries give opinion leaders access to the airwaves to provide perspective on the news. This was the least popular form of local news programming found in the survey.

2012 MVM NPR Commentary.001

About the Survey

The 2012 Survey of Stations was conducted by Michael V. Marcotte of MVM Consulting in coordination with the University of Nevada School of Journalism, where Marcotte is a visiting professor. Collaborating on the invitation only, online survey was PhD candidate Sandra Evans of The Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California. 136 stations participated, 103 of them were NPR members.

News Salaries by Market Size

Larger broadcast service areas correlate with higher salaries, but not as directly as with higher budgets. That’s because you find low budget stations in large markets, and they pay low budget salaries not large market salaries. (Go here for news salaries by news budget size.)

Here are three charts showing the top 10 annual average salaries in public radio news jobs according to the “market size” of the respondents. These market size groupings are based on the population within the broadcast service area of the responding public radio stations. There are more than 100 respondents per each market size sample, but the number of respondents per job title can be quite low depending on the rarity of the title.

Small Markets

Medium Markets

Source: PRNDI/MVM Consulting

Large Markets

News Salaries by News Budgets

I’ve sorted the average annual salaries in public radio newsrooms by their station news budgets. As you would expect, the higher budget categories closely correlate with higher average salaries.

If you look under “news directors,” for example, you’ll see that stations spending between $500k-$1m a year on their newsrooms, spend an average of $60k-$65k for news director salaries.

Again, this is based on a survey of almost 400 U.S. public broadcast station managers last summer.

The thicker the line in each of these graphs, the more the number of stations contributing to the average. Click on the graph to see it larger.

Refer back to the earlier salary charts to see highs, lows, medians, averages and actual station counts per each job title.

News Directors

The thickness of the pink line attests to the many stations in that $50k-$250k newsroom budget bracket. The news directors at these stations share an average annual salary in the low 40s. There is a jump, however, in the newsroom budget brackets above $250k. The managers of these bigger newsrooms are averaging between the mid 50s to the mid 60s.

Hosts/Anchors

Again, we see the thick pink line due to the many stations in that lower budget bracket. Hosts at those stations get paid in the low 30s on average. The newsrooms above $250k push the average pay up over $45k a year.

Reporters

The trend lines for reporters are obvious — more pay at bigger shops — though the upper range of averages is only in the upper 50s.

Producers

Public radio news producers show average annual pay rates quite comparable to reporters relative to their respective newsroom budgets.

Executive Producers/Directors and VPs of News

Note the larger scale range used to display the VP of News average annual salaries. This position is more common in the larger stations.

The Executive Director/Producer chart shows this position can be found in smaller stations, but the pay still scales according to budget.

Senior Producers and Assistant News Directors

Senior producers are averaging salaries just below those of news directors in the larger stations.

The assistant news director chart has enough random deviation in the small sample to limit its usefulness.

New Media News Positions: Content Director, Online Editor, web Producer

There are few of these in the sample to begin with, so the green line is an outlier (part-time position, most likely). Similarly, the deviation from the normal curve may also be due to the newness of this job title and the likelihood it represents different jobs in different stations.

Again, jobs that focus exclusively online are still relatively rare in public radio (it is far more common to find hybrid positions mixing broadcast with new platforms), yet despite the smaller sample size, we can see patterns emerging in online editor and web producer average salaries.

Public Radio News Salaries

Data from a 2010 local public radio station survey shows the overall median news reporter salary under $37,000 per year.

The median for all public radio news hosts was $40,000. The median for news directors was $45,000.

The overall highest median salary was vice-president of news with a median of $92,500. The lowest median salary was $32,000 for assignment editor.

The data show vast differences between individuals performing the same job at different stations. For example, the lowest paid content director earns $128,000 less than the highest paid content director.

The most common jobs in local public radio newsrooms are news directors, reporters, hosts and producers.

(Note: See also News Salaries by News Budget and News Salaries by Market Size)

The charts below compare median salaries for 16 newsroom positions. Below each chart is a table showing the salary ranges for each position. In addition to the highest and lowest salary are the median and average. The “count” is the number of stations reporting a position salary. (The “count” is NOT a count of individuals in those jobs.)

Median Public Radio Salaries

News Director Host/Anchor Reporter/ Corresp Producer
Count 169 92 112 67
Low $5,500 $8,000 $7,000 $4,000
Median $45,000 $40,000 $36,500 $35,000
High $140,000 $114,000 $75,000 $60,000
Avg $47,972 $44,786 $37,793 $35,814
Median Public Radio Salaries Chart Two

VP of News Exec Producer Content Director Managing Editor Online Editor Senior Producer
Count 12 25 17 17 14 33
Low $45,000 $10,000 $12,000 $26,000 $49,750 $20,000
Median $92,500 $57,000 $56,000 $55,000 $50,000 $49,000
High $150,000 $97,500 $140,000 $97,500 $62,000 $90,000
Avg $94,167 $60,486 $60,695 $55,889 $48,268 $50,616

Median Public Radio Salaries Chart Three

Pub Aff Director Bureau Chief Asst News Director web Producer Photog/ Videogrphr Assignmnt Editor
Count 15 15 24 22 11 11
Low $55,369 $48,900 $15,000 $5,000 $17,000 $10,000
Median $45,000 $45,000 $40,250 $38,415 $38,000 $32,000
High $100,000 $76,000 $70,000 $50,000 $51,000 $59,500
Avg $53,677 $47,795 $40,652 $33,149 $34,992 $35,494

The survey was conducted by myself with help from Steve Martin and Ken Mills during July-August 2010. Over 300 stations participated. The survey was a supplement to the PRNDI/CPB census of journalists which has yet to be released by CPB.

This is the first comprehensive public radio news salary survey that we know of. As such, we do not have trend data.

However, we can make some salient comparison using data gathered by Dr. Bob Papper of Hofstra University who conducts an annual newsroom survey for RTDNA. Dr. Papper includes both commercial and non-commerical broadcasters in his survey, though, in general, his data are viewed as a snapshot of commercial newsrooms.

Here is one chart from the radio section of Papper’s 2010 newsroom survey

Credit: RTDNA/Papper 2010

As one can see, public radio stations show a wider range of high and low pay rates for news directors, reporters and anchors. Somewhat encouragingly, public radio newsrooms show overall higher median pay rates for those positions.