Here is data that has not been reported anywhere before. It comes from a 2010 system wide survey I did as a supplement to the CPB/PRNDI Census of Journalists*.
The chart shows that despite the weak economy 58% of stations maintained their news staffing levels during FY 2010 while 27% of stations actually grew their news staffs during that time.
The following chart reports the results of a second survey question, looking ahead to FY 2011. It shows 61% of stations planning to maintain their current newsroom size, while a healthy 26% of stations plan to increase their news and public affairs staffing.
There has been strong emphasis lately on growing local station services as a response to changing patterns of public media consumption. For example, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is funding nine “Local Journalism Centers” involving more than 40 stations — which would account for roughly half the growth reflected here in 2010 (and some of the optimism for 2011).
For more theory and recommendations on the trend toward local growth, see Rethinking Public Media: More Local, More Inclusive, More Interactive by Barbara Cochran for the Knight Commission and Aspen Institute.
*The CPB/PRNDI Census of Journalists in local newsrooms was conducted in July-August 2010 and filed as a complete report in September 2010. CPB has yet to release the results because it wants to add to the headcount the number of national/network journalists. The data presented here are not part of the census report.