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40 fascinating facts about the news industry

  • News anchor jobs start at $18 an hour on average

    Starting out in the U.S. television market, a news anchor with less than a year’s experience will likely earn an average of about $36,000 a year, or $18 an hour. Mid-career, that average salary will reach about $60,000 and, after 20 years on the job, a news anchor can expect an average yearly pay of about $89,000.

  • Barbara Walters broke the gender barrier inTV news

    Barbara Walters was the first woman to anchor an evening newscast, starting in 1976, when she co-hosted “ABC News” with Harry Reasoner, who did not hide his displeasure at the arrangement. The paired team went off the air after two years. The next female news anchor appeared 15 years later, when Connie Chung and Dan Rather teamed up at CBS.

  • News union membership peaks in 1980s

    The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America (TNG-CWA) labor union was founded in 1933 by journalists in New York who had realized that unionized newspaper press operators and delivery truck drivers were earning larger salaries. Membership peaked at 34,000 in the 1980s, when the union was campaigning to protect editorial workers from the potential health hazards of video-display terminals and keyboard use like eye strain and repetitive-strain injuries. Today it has about 24,000 members. New digital outlets, however, have unionized in the past 10 years.

  • Gwen Ifill breaks TV news race barrier

    Gwen Ifill became the first Black woman to host a nationally televised news program, “Washington Week in Review,” in 1999 on PBS, and in 2004, she was the first Black woman to moderate a vice presidential debate. She later became co-anchor and managing editor of “PBS NewsHour” until she died in 2016.

  • First American magazines launch in 1741 but soon fail

    Rival Philadelphia publishers Benjamin Franklin and Andrew Bradford put out the first American magazines in 1741, with Bradford’s beating Franklin’s by three days. Neither venture lasted more than a few months, but more than 100 magazines were in business by the end of the 18th century, including Pennsylvania Magazine, edited by Thomas Paine.

     

  • Congress backs public broadcasting in 1967

    Passage of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 by Congress established the Corporation for Public Broadcasting amid a national acknowledgement of the value of educational and public service programming. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting distributed federal funds to thousands of local radio and television stations to fund noncommercial content. Today the best known in the industry are television’s Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio.

  • First news magazine covers Black women’s protest

    The nation’s first news magazine, Time, published its first edition in 1923. On the cover was the Speaker of the House Joseph Cannon, who was retiring after 23 terms. Among the articles published were those on a protest by 2,000 Black women who opposed plans for a statue called “The Black Mammy of the South” to be placed in the nation’s capital, saying they did not like the reminder of slavery; reaction to the first successuful helicopter flight, and a one-cent cigarette tax in Indiana.

  • Nation’s first radio news show covers politics

    In 1920, the first radio news broadcast was broadcast in Detroit on a station owned and operated by the Scripps newspaper family’s The Detroit News in a strategy to dominate the news market. The program was aired on Aug. 31, which was primary election day, and it announced the local, state, and congressional results. The Detroit News later launched Michigan’s first television station in 1947.

  • History’s Federalist Papers are penned as letters to newspapers

    The “Federalist Papers,” the enormously influential 85 essays that urged ratification of the U.S. Constitution, were a series of letters written to be published by New York newspapers. First run in 1987, the essays were written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay under the pseudonym “Publius.”

  • Investigative pioneer feigns insanity to get story

    Nellie Bly pioneered investigative journalism as a reporter for the Pittsburgh Dispatch, New York World, and New York Journal. In 1887, she feigned insanity and spent more than a week undercover to expose physical abuse, rancid food, and squalid conditions at the overcrowded Blackwell’s Island Asylum in New York. Bly later embarked on a 1889 race to circumnavigate the globe, which she did in 72 days, setting a record, and reported from Austria during World War I.