As just about everyone in the business knows, television is a great way to make a fortune, but a hell of a way to make a living. Consider these numbers from the annual salary survey conducted by the Radio Television Digital News Assn. and Hofstra U.: Over the past decade, inflation rose 28%, but the median salary for all local TV news workers rose 21.6%.
In that 10-year period, the median salaries for only four local news positions beat inflation: assignment editor (+28.3%), sports anchor (+28.6%), news director (+35.9%) and weathercaster (+37%). The median salary for new anchors rose in line with inflation, although those salaries were all over the map, depending on market size.
Among the 1,238 TV stations responding to the survey, the 2012 maximum annual salary reported for news anchors was $850,000. In smaller markets, the job is considerably less lucrative, with the minimum reported being $18,500. News directors don’t earn as much as local anchors in top markets, but they have a higher median salary overall, $87,000 vs. $64,000.
Stations appear more eager to keep their on-air talent than those who direct them. Only 38% of local TV news directors are under contract, compared with 93.6% of news anchors.