What Does a TV News Director Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

Television broadcast control room with director and crew
••• Greg Pease/Getty Images

TV news directors manage television station news departments and staff to ensure the accurate, timely delivery of news. They plan news broadcasts by determining and scheduling all of the content that goes live. TV news directors are in charge of quality control, as they monitor stories for accuracy and ensure that broadcasting rules and regulations are followed.

Because this position is so demanding, many TV news directors only stay at a station for a couple of years. As they move to larger stations, executive producers, managing editors, or assistant news directors share the workload. But in larger markets, the pressure to perform in the Nielsen TV ratings increases, which contributes to making this a high-stress position.

TV News Director Duties & Responsibilities

A TV news director's responsibilities require them to be away from their desk, actively handling the day-to-day decisions of the newsroom. Their duties include:

  • Overseeing the daily operations of the television newsroom and website content
  • Budgeting and hiring news staff
  • Reviewing stories to make sure they are fair and accurate before they go on the air
  • Ensuring adherence to journalistic and legal standards
  • Solving problems when stories selected to be broadcast aren't coming together or when equipment breaks
  • Monitoring news developments and sending news feature ideas to personnel for content creation

TV News Director Salary

In a small designated market area (DMA), the news director is likely the highest-paid person in the news department. However, this may depend on experience and how much money other department heads at the station earn.

As market size grows, the TV news director's salary is often eclipsed by those of TV news anchors, especially if the anchors are considered "stars." A TV news director has to accept that some employees may earn more, even though the TV news director's job is likely more demanding.

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide specific data about TV news directors, they do include the profession under "producers and directors." In 2017, producers and directors earned the following:

  • Median Annual Salary: $71,620 ($34.43/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $164,290 ($78.99/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $33,730 ($16.22/hour)

Education, Training, and Certification

The path to becoming a TV news director involves a college education, as well as experience working in a newsroom:

  • College degree: A TV news director typically starts her career with the same college degree as others in the news department. Common degrees include journalism, communications, and radio/TV/film. However, with the right experience and training, people who hold other degrees, such as business or political science, can also become TV news directors.
  • Experience: To have a career as a TV news director, you need prior experience working other jobs in the newsroom. While the typical career path is to work your way up from TV news producer, others may have been TV news reporters or videographers.

    Prior newscast producing experience is important to becoming a successful TV news director. As a producer, you gain valuable experience as the manager of a newscast, making sure a long list of details receives attention and leading a group of anchors, reporters, and production department workers into creating a quality show.

    A TV news director must be skilled at all aspects of news, from how to get a story to how to avoid being sued. This requires a basic knowledge of media law in addition to being an expert at journalism.

    TV News Director Skills & Competencies

    TV news directors need to have the following skills:

    • Time management: Ability to meet scheduled deadlines, make split-second decisions on content, ensure ethical standards are always met, and juggle time training new hires.
    • Strong leadership and coaching: Ability to lead and coach staff on all aspects of newsroom work, from shooting video to writing compelling TV news stories.
    • Personnel and material management: Ability to handle a staff, budget, and inventory of expensive television equipment.
    • Communication and interpersonal talents: Ability to work well with others at the station. A TV news director needs to have excellent written and verbal communication skills for all aspects of the job.
    • Critical-thinking and problem-solving capabilities: Ability to handle pressure calmly, such as responding to breaking news by dispatching crews to the scene and getting someone on the air with an immediate bulletin.
    • Branding: Ability to perform market research and know the target demographics of their audience.

    Job Outlook

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for producers and directors is expected to grow 12 percent from 2016 to 2026. In addition, the number of TV programs, and therefore jobs, is expected to increase as the number of internet-only platforms rise. Also, because the job of a TV news director is so stressful, these positions regularly become available.

    Work Environment

    TV news directors typically work in a high-pressure, deadline-driven environment, moving between television studios. conference rooms, and business offices.

    Work Schedule

    According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, work hours for producers and directors can be long and irregular. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. Many producers and directors do not work a standard workweek, because their schedules may change with each assignment or project.

    How to Get the Job

    APPLY

    Those interested in a career as a TV news director can review this site, iHireBroadcasting, which advertises a number of positions in TV news. Another website, TV Crossing, boasts "the largest collection of TV jobs on earth."

    FIND AN INTERNSHIP

    The National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET-CWA) provides job resources and internships for those seeking a career in TV news.

    Comparing Similar Jobs

    If you are interested in a career as a TV news director, you may want to consider these related positions, along with their median salaries:

    Source: Payscale.com, 2019