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TVThere will never be another Don Alhart.

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.

City of Rochester Communications Bureau

 

The Rochester Business Alliance came out with its annual survey asking local companies if they plan to give raises next year. The Rochester Business Journal reports:

Some 88 percent of respondents to the RBA’s survey of pay trends said they are planning increases for some or all employees in 2013, up from 85 percent in 2012. Nine percent said they were projecting a wage freeze or pay reduction for some or all employees in the coming year.

(snip)

Area employers surveyed say they are budgeting for a projected pay increase of 3 percent in 2013, down slightly from the projected 3.1 percent for 2012.

(snip)

Some 156 firms, representing 82,400 employees, participated in at least one of the surveys, RBA officials said.

I think this survey has limited usefulness. Past predictions of raises from this survey haven’t come to pass, as the Democrat and Chronicle points out:

Those pay raises expected by RBA-surveyed companies are rosier than what reality has been for wages in the Rochester region. According to state Labor Department data, the average 2011 wage in the Finger Lakes region was $42,545, up 2 percent over the 2010 average, which was itself up 2.2 percent over 2009’s average.

Bureau of Labor Statistics data paints an even worse picture in Rochester for wages, as I reported on Labor Day for 13WHAM:

Wages have fallen about 7 percent since 2008, with the average worker bringing home $53 less a week. Weekly wages might be creeping up, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics report they went up .7 percent between July 2011 and July 2012.

This survey came out on the same day the Census reported the middle class has shrunk to an all-time low, with the median income having declined in the U.S. in 2011. The 2000’s were the lost decade for the middle income worker and some predict this one is on its way.

It would be truly great if Rochester area workers get 3 percent raises in 2013. That’s a big “if,” given the trend over the past few years. And those raises won’t make up for what has been lost.

Links of the Day:

– Check out this email sent to striking Chicago teachers (many of whom are locked out of email) by Jean-Claude Brizard saying, “I have been in urban education for more than 26 years and I would never abandon my post.” Um…….

– The Chicago strike has put the spotlight on teacher evaluations. As this New York Times article makes clear, the research on evaluations is new and contradictory.

– It appears the state is holding up a new lease for the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium and key deadlines for funding are not being met.

– Rochester’s only Jewish senior living community is about to serve nonkosher food.

– Walking downtown last night, look what I passed by: