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News Layoffs and Big Anchor Salaries

I just read that Katie Couric makes $300 thousand dollars….a week. That’s over $14 million a year. As CBS News has just reportedly laid off some 100 employees, there seems to be a revolt brewing at the Tiffany network.

From Matt Drudge this morning:

…her salary is now in the direct line of fire, network insiders explain, and a populist backlash against Couric’s cash is said to be forming inside the newsroom.

“She makes enough to pay 200 news reporters $75,000 a year!” demands a veteran producer. “It’s complete insanity.”

The angry source continues: “We report with great enthusiasm how much bankers are making, how it is out of step with reality during a recession. Well, look at Katie!”

Actually,  look at the ratings for total viewers for the week of January 25th:

      NBC               ABC              CBS
10,080,000    8,510,000    6,760,000

Somebody’s not getting their money’s worth. I don’t necessarily begrudge large anchor salaries; there’s a lot of pressure riding on their shoulders. But it seems to me the age of the 800-pound gorilla news anchor is so over. As the advertising model for traditional media becomes increasingly obsolete and as the erosion of viewers continues for the Big Three network newscasts, this kind of spending for the big-cahoona anchors has got to be seriously reevaluated.

I have never been a Katie Couric-basher. I happen to think the CBS Evening News, especially under Rick Kaplan’s producing stewardship, is pretty damned good. But I feel the pain of those 100 laid-off CBS News employees. And the pain of the ten people that just got laid off at CNNRadio in Atlanta. And the pain of the 20 of us that got blown out at ABC News Radio late last year.

According to Unity-Journalists of Color, the umbrella group for the nation’s minority journalist organizations, between January of 2008 and September of 2009- over 46,000 jobs have been lost in the news business.

This is a really tough time for everybody and really brutal for folks in the traditional news business; Radio, TV, Newspapers. The source quoted on Drudge this morning has it right. Seems like a bit of a disconnect that those who bitch about corporate bonuses and banker’s salaries in the midst of a recession are themselves commuting in limos and earning $300 thousand weekly paychecks.

Most news people, of course, don’t make anywhere near that kind of money. Try half of Katie’s weekly paycheck, over an entire year. But even at an annual $150K, by Couric salary standards, you still get the equivalent of 100 news correspondents. The disparity takes your breath away.

Categories: Media Tags: , , ,
  1. Paul Chambers
    February 3, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Amen

  2. Dar
    February 3, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    The stat that popped out at me “between January of 2008 and September of 2009- over 46,000 jobs have been lost in the news business.” How is the job getting done?

  3. Bigfoot
    February 3, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Very well said

  4. Bob Schmidt
    February 4, 2010 at 1:41 am

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Katie and the other big-time anchors better make it while they can.

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