He’s a great news anchor and a great man. He’s contributed a tremendous amount to the Rochester community. That alone puts him in a category by himself.
But there’s something he’s done that few journalists, if anyone, from the Millennial population will be able to achieve: Staying at the same Rochester news outlet for 50 years.
There are fewer jobs these days in television, print and radio, thanks to the Internet and a shrinking ad market. (And corporate greed?) These jobs also pay much less. Consider the fact there are 25-year-old television reporters in Rochester earning $30,000 a year. That’s less money than I earned when I was their age 15 years ago. (WROC had a union back then. Only WHEC has a union for on-air talent.) That’s an astonishing drop in pay, especially when you factor in inflation. I know a veteran reporter in her 40’s who wanted to come back to TV, but was only offered $35,000.
As I said in a speech a few weeks ago to the Rochester Media Association, I was fortunate to have had a choice to remain in Rochester and build a career. My generation, The Gen X-ers, is the last to be able to stay here. I equated our pay roughly to teachers or police officers (without the nice benefits). But younger journalists won’t be able to make the same choice to stay and make a decent living. They will have to move on to bigger cities. Many moved on before the wage free-fall, but at least they had a choice to stay in Rochester.
Yes, wages have dropped and jobs have been cut in many industries. Our community has felt the pain all too well. But there’s a unique consequence when journalists can’t stick around and build a career. Institutional knowledge is lost, if it’s ever really gained. Reporters will often come from more affluent families that can subsidize their earnings. Public officials won’t be held as accountable, as young reporters, even the best ones, won’t know what questions to ask or whom to ask. In the worst case, stories will be done that will hurt people through inaccuracies or imbalance.
We need a strong, thriving journalism community in Rochester. I don’t think we’re done seeing the disruption caused by digital media, cord-cutting and live streaming. There are many, many talented, hard-working reporters in Rochester. I hope they can stay.
— Ana Liss (@analiss) May 27, 2016