Study Finds Increases TV News Profits, Content and Employment

by Gabe Bullard on July 15, 2011

The profits, jobs and amount of local television news are all up according to a new study (part one, part two) from Hofstra University.

The report concludes that 2010 was a turnaround year for TV news, with the number of employees at affiliates increasing nearly three percent to 26,500. That’s still about a thousand below peak employment in 2007. The study also found that profits have returned for many affiliates and nationwide, Fox stations are more likely to be profitable than any others, with 72 percent of them in black.

“Fox news departments, which are still probably a little bit newer than some of the CBS, NBC and ABC news departments that have been around for much longer. It could be that the Fox news departments are smaller,” says Bill Lamb, general manager of WDRB, Louisville’s Fox affiliate.

Lamb says local news is very profitable for him and 72 percent seems surprisingly low.

Profitability depends on viewers, and news is often criticized for pandering to viewers with sensationalism and abbreviated newscasts. Lamb says TV news content truly is what audiences want and that’s why it makes money. But, he doesn’t think reporters should avoid pursuing in-depth, hard-hitting stories.

“I absolutely think there’s a lot of news people need to hear,” he says. “But if that’s all you give them, they’ll go away. So you have to mix it in with what they want to hear, too.”

The study also shows a net gain of 100 employees in newspapers nationwide, though newspaper employment is still far below 2007 numbers.

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