Newscasters come into our homes every day, perfectly coiffed and professionally dressed, sharing information about the highlights and lowlights of the day. Although you might think it’s a glamorous job to spend your days chasing down the big story and sitting behind the anchor desk to deliver the news, the typical newscaster salary isn’t reflective of grandeur. In fact, although you may read headlines about multimillion-dollar salaries for household names, the average local news reporter's salary is much less.
News Anchor Job Description
The primary responsibility of a news anchor is to deliver the news from the news studio. They typically read from a teleprompter, sharing stories that they wrote themselves, or introducing video or live broadcasts from other reporters. In some cases, a newscaster will conduct a live interview in the studio, or provide breaking news updates as they come in.
News anchors are more than just “talking heads,” though. Anchors often work closely with producers and other reporters to make editorial decisions about the newscast, determining which stories will run and in which order. They also write copy for the teleprompter, choose video to accompany stories, and conduct interviews and research. Some news anchors also work on special projects, such as an ongoing series of reports or a special investigation. While most newscasters spend the majority of their time in the studio, they do often go out in the field for live reports. They may also be responsible for participating in station promotions and attending special events, as well as posting updates and information to social media.
The majority of news organizations require newscasters to have a bachelor’s degree in journalism or a related field, like communications, as well as experience in presenting the news. Many newscasters gain experience working at college television or radio stations, or on local public access channels. Most start out as reporters, working in the field before taking over the anchor desk. Television stations also look for newscasters who have a pleasant, clear speaking voice, and the ability to read words from a teleprompter or printed paper accurately and smoothly. Because local news programs typically don’t have a hair and makeup team on staff, their newscasters must be able to get themselves camera-ready.
The majority of newscasters begin working in small markets, gaining experience before moving on to larger markets or roles with more responsibility. This typically means that news reporters move fairly frequently, often to small cities. The job itself is also unpredictable. Newscasters can be scheduled on shifts at any time during the day and night, and on weekends. New anchors are often assigned to weekend shifts, for example, delivering the 11 p.m. broadcast. This can put a damper on your social life – as can being assigned to the early morning programs that begin at 5 a.m. Newscasters also need to have a thick skin, as not only are they often called upon to report on difficult topics, but viewers can be very opinionated about their looks and broadcasting skills. On the plus side, many stations provide newscasters with a wardrobe allowance, but that also means tailoring your personal style to what looks best on TV, and not necessarily what you like best.
Years of Experience and Salary
Remember those multimillion-dollar salaries? Unless you become a beloved anchor for a national news program, you can expect to earn much less. An entry-level news anchor salary can be as low as $20,000 per year, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting a median salary of $39,370. This means that about half of news anchors earn less (with the bottom 10 percent earning less than $22,970) and the top 10 percent earning more than $90,000.
Earning potential for a newscaster depends largely on the market. The average pay for a news anchor in New York City, the number-one market in the country, is $114,000 per year, according to PayScale. This is almost $30,000 more than anchors in Chicago, the next top-paying market, earn. Outside of major cities, where most local newscasters work, pay is much lower. However, as you gain experience and move into larger markets, you can expect compensation to increase.
Job Growth Trend
Trends in the industry, including declining advertising revenues, consolidation in smaller markets and the growth of online and mobile news outlets, have the BLS predicting a decline in the television journalism field. The BLS predicts that demand for reporters and anchors will decline by 9 percent over the next eight years.