According to a just-released survey from the Radio-Television Digital News Association, 400 local TV newspeople lost their jobs in 2009, or about 1.5% of the workforce. The good news is that is down dramatically from 2008 cuts and the majority of news execs are predicting no more cuts in the near term.
At about the same time the study was released, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski was arguing that public media was becoming even more important with the hard times that had hit commercial news media.
According to the study, which was conducted in conjunction with Hofstra University, that was a big improvement over 2008, when three times as many people lost their jobs.
The study suggested the remaining journalists had learned to do more with less, which could be the new creed of journalism in general in the age of millions of multiplatform competitors.
The study found that despite the cutbacks over those two years, the average amount of news on stations hit a record high of five hours a day on weekdays (vs. 4.7 hours the year before).
Over 60% of news directors polled said they do not expect to cut staff.
The study found that 770 stations were doing local news at the beginning of 2009, with another 205 stations sharing that programming for a total of 975 stations with news. By year's end, eight stations had dropped their original newscasts, but news sharing had increased to 224 (including some of the stations who dropped their original), for a net gain of 11 stations with news to 986.
Of those eight drops, only one was an affiliate, with the balance being independents, most of whom still carried news, but from another station.
The annual survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2009 among 1,355 TV stations, a hefty 76.6% sample.