Are there pay gaps in local broadcast news?

September 6, 2018 01:30

A report issued in August by student reporters in the Asian American Journalists Association’s Voices program found after examining seven major newspapers’ union-commissioned pay equity studies that women and people of color earn less than men and white newsroom staff. While the reports’ conclusions have been disputed by leadership of several of the papers examined, the researches nonetheless found diversity gaps in leadership and reluctance by women and people of color to negotiate pay.
 
The annual RTDNA/Hofstra University Newsroom Survey diversity report released earlier this summer found that the percentage of women and people of color in TV newsrooms and in TV news management are at the highest levels ever measured, although diversity in local radio news slipped and neither fully reflect the diversity of their communities. Now, researcher Bob Papper takes a closer look at the salary and diversity data to ask if there are pay gaps for women and people of color in local TV and radio news.

 

TV Leadership Gaps
In the case of TV news, 44.4% of the local TV news workforce are women, but 34.4% of TV news directors are women. However, women have for decades dominated the ranks of producers, which is the most common trajectory for news management.
 
While the survey does not break down job titles by gender, it is likely we would observe women found in decreasing percentages as we move from producers to managing editors and executive producers to assistant news directors and news directors.
 
On the positive side, the gap between women in local TV news and women news directors has been mostly steadily shrinking. Nearly a quarter century ago, women were 37% of the local TV news workforce but only 17% of the news directors. That’s a differential of 20 points.
 
Now, women are 44.4% of the local TV news workforce and 34.3% of the news directors. That’s double the percentage of news directors and a differential of 10 points between workforce and news directors, a clear improvement, though not yet at parity.
 
TV Pay Gaps
What about salary? The only position for which we are able to look for pay gaps for is for news directors, the only position for which the data is sufficient and for which a station only has one.
 
Overall, local TV news directors who are men make more money than local TV news directors who are women.
 
Here are the averages and medians:
  Average salary Median salary
Male TV news directors $111,400 $100,000
Female TV news directors 103,900 95,000
 
That’s a differential of about 6%. But this number does not account for other factors that could contribute to the differential in salary, including market size, by staff size, by network affiliation, and so on, because. If, in fact, there is a gender pay gap, then we would expect to find men earning more in a disproportionate number of comparable circumstances. But we don’t.
 
When we compare median and average salaries of men and women by market size, we find that women make more money in the top 25 markets than men do. Men earn more in markets 26 to 50 and 51 to 100. Women out-earn men in markets 101 to 150 (with one tie), while men out-earn women in the smallest markets, 151+.
 
When we compare salaries by staff size, we find that women make more when leading staffs of 51 and larger. Men make more in newsrooms with staffs of 31 to 50. Women make more in newsrooms of 21 to 30 and 11 to 20 employees, while make men more in the smallest newsrooms with 1 to 10 staff.
 
By affiliation, women earned more at ABC and Fox stations, men earned more at CBS stations, and NBC stations were split. Men out-earned women among other commercial stations, and women news directors earn more than men at non-commercial stations.
 
Overall, when comparing median and average salaries of men and women overall, by market size, by staff size, and by affiliation, men out-earned women in 18 comparisons while women earned more in 17 scenarios, with 1 tie.
 
This indicates that, while a leadership gap remains for women in local TV news, there does not appear to be a significantly measurable pay gap as well – at least not for the top newsroom position.
 
The same cannot be said in local radio news.
 
Radio Pay Gaps
 
  Average salary Median salary
Male radio news directors $46,800 $41,100
Female radio news directors 41,100 36,000
 
In local radio newsrooms, the gender pay differential is about 12%, double that of TV.
 
Men earn more at commercial stations and at non-commercial stations. Women earn more as news directors in radio newsrooms with staff sizes of one and of 10 or more, but men earn more at newsrooms with staff sizes of 2, 3 and 4 through 9.
 
Number of stations doing news in a cluster: Men win four and tie women in the fifth grouping here. How about market size? Men win major markets, large markets and small markets. Men and women tie in medium markets. How about corporate/organizational structure? Men win standalone stations and groups of 3 or more local stations. Men and women split in station combos (AM + AM, FM + FM and AM/FM).
 
In sum, men earn more in 34 head-to-head detailed comparisons of average and median salaries across various station types, while women earn more in just 8. That’s a clear indication of a gender pay gap in local radio news.
 
Is there a pay gap affecting people of color in local TV news?
 
TV Leadership Gaps
Certainly, the progress women have made hasn’t been duplicated by people of color. Nearly a quarter century ago, people of color made up about 17% of the local TV news workforce and 9% of the news directors. The makeup of the workforce at non-Hispanic stations was not calculated separately, so there’s no way to know how many of those people of color worked at Hispanic stations.
 
The first year for those additional breakdowns is 2001, when 24.6% of the TV workforce were people of color along with 8% of the news directors. At non-Hispanic stations, those numbers dropped down to 21.8% and 5.3%.
 
That’s a huge differential between the workforce and news directors, and it’s important to note that 2001 was, overall, the best year for people of color in local TV news until this year.
 
So, in those 17 years, the workforce of color has gone, overall, from 24.6% to 24.8%; the minority workforce at non-Hispanic stations has gone from 21.8% to 22.7%.
 
The proportion of news directors of color has increased, overall, from 8% to 17.4%; at non-Hispanic stations, it’s moved from 5.3% to 14.3%. That is substantial progress.
 
But while the numbers of women in local TV news are approaching parity with the U.S. population overall, people of color are not close to the U.S. populations, which is about 38% people of color.
 
But it’s also more complicated than that.
 
Almost all jobs in local TV news require a college degree. So what does the college-graduate workforce look like? Overall, just under 35% of the American workforce, ages 25 to 65, have a college degree or higher. Here’s the breakdown of that portion of the workforce population:
 
Caucasian             71.6%
Asian American    10.8
African American  9.1
Hispanic                8.2
Native American   0.3
 
However, diversity in local TV news still lags behind even this adjusted workforce pool.
 
TV Pay Gaps
What about salary? The only position for which we are able to look for pay gaps for is for news directors, the only position for which the data is sufficient and for which a station only has one.
 
Overall, local TV news directors of color earn higher salaries than white local TV news directors.
 
Here are the averages and medians:
  Average salary Median salary
TV news directors of color $121,100 $99,000
White TV news directors 106,400 98,500
 
That’s about a 14% difference on average, while the median (or typical) salaries are comparable. However, other factors could account for any differential in average and median salaries, including market size, staff size, network affiliation, and so on. If, in fact, there’s a pay gap affecting any group, then we would expect to find one group out-earning others in a disproportionate number of comparable circumstances. But we don’t.
 
When we look at market size, we find that white news directors earn more in every market size cluster except markets 101 to 150. That’s an edge of 9 to 0 with 1 tie.
 
But when we look at newsroom staff size, news directors earn more in 7 comparisons and less in 2, with 1 tie.
 
With mixed results by network affiliation, the bottom line is white radio news directors out-earn news directors of color in 18 comparisons, people of color earn more in 16 and there are 2 ties. That’s close enough to even to say, no, there isn’t significantly measurable pay gap – at least not at the news director level.
 
This analysis cannot be duplicated for local radio newsrooms because there are too few radio news directors of color to have confidence in the results.

About the Survey
The RTDNA/Hofstra University Survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2017 among all 1,683 operating, non-satellite television stations and a random sample of 3,542 radio stations.  Valid responses came from 1,333 television stations (79.2%) and 415 radio news directors and general managers representing 1,110 radio stations.  Some data sets (e.g. the number of TV stations originating local news, getting it from others and women TV news directors) are based on a complete census and are not projected from a smaller sample.

About Bob
Bob Papper is Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Journalism at Hofstra University and has worked extensively in radio and TV news.  This research was supported by the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University and the Radio Television Digital News Association.

 


 
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