I have some questions about the Dallas market. What is everyone shooting/editing on there? Does the pay vary greatly from station to station...if so, who pays high and who pays low? Which station has the happiest employees? Any other info would be greatly appreciated!
WFAA starts at $37k. KDAF starts at $45k (or at least they used to). CBS and FOX are suppose to be the best paying stations. Not sure of their starting salaries. WFAA has a reputation for great photography and they get a lot of photogs who want to work for them because of their reputation and that allows them to pay low. You also get the opportunity to do stories at WFAA that can win awards where you won't have that luxury at the other stations. I've been away from Dallas for a year so some of this could have changed. KDAF is a CW station that used to do regular news but switched to a comedy type news format about a year ago called NightCap. I've been told since that the news director responsible for implementing this new format only lasted 4 months and it has been a disaster, dropping their ratings to hashmarks. The GM their finally was let go (officially he retired) and they are suppose to be switching back to regular news. KDAF had a very talented photog staff before the switch who then all left and were replaced by "PREDATORS" (Producer/Photographer/Editor) which is KDAF's name for a VJ or OMB. When I left they were still starting predators at $45k but the positions went from hourly with OT to salary. At the time, the only upside was you could basically make your own schedule and only had to be there long enough to get the job done so if you only needed to work 4 hours thats what you work then go home. Some days took 10 hours. The difference in stories from the other stations was KDAF requires everything to be highly produced with music, graphics, and high production value so its not like turning your 3 hour package on a shooting. It was a very different ballgame there. Much like a hybrid between news and production. Their Chief Editor became an Executive Producer with the switch. His name is Bill Caruthers and he's the best editor I've ever been around. The guy has mad skills. I'm not sure how much all of this changes once they switch back to regular news.
NBC does a lot of VJ stuff. Not sure the direction they are going in now but they do have a new building.
CBS and FOX have some good photogs and overall great people working there. Unfortunately, they get run all over the place and never have much time to put together good looking stories. Has nothing to do with their abilities and everything to do with management.
I know this was posted seven months ago, but I'm in the market and can clarify a few things.
Fox (KDFW) shoots on P2; NBC (KXAS) shoots on P2; CW (KDAF) shoots on Sony EX. I can't remember what CBS (KTVT) and ABC (WFAA) shoot on.
The stuff you read about the pay above is accurate. Fox is a union O&O, so the pay is good. It also means the new shooter is at the bottom of the pile when it comes to vacation time, scheduling, equipment, etc.
WFAA is a Gannett station, pays at the lower end of the market, that's because it's a destination shop (it used to be). They still do good stuff, but honestly the daily stuff is almost identical across the market. They also have their go-to shooters/editors for their big pieces, so you would likely be on daily assignments.
CBS is an O&O shop, pay is okay. CBS is also in Fort Worth, the other stations are either in the middle of the market or in Dallas. That may affect where you would live. People I know there are on both sides of the happiness meter. Some are really happy, some are waiting for a better opportunity.
CW hires preditors, not shooters. If you worked there, you wouldn't be doing what you're probably doing now. Then you'd probably go find a nice PR firm to work for. There are some good people at CW, it's just stuck in the bad programming/Tribune ownership trap. Pays better than WFAA, but it's not shooting/editing news like you'd probably be used to.
NBC is an O&O shop. Pay is on the higher end of the market, based on experience. They have regional VJs (based in specific cities) and they also have a news staff of shooters/editors and reporters. I know they have probably 20 photogs and the average tenure at the shop is 10-15 years. I know some guys have been there more than 20 years.
Also consider it's not a market you just happen upon, there are a lot of small markets in Texas and CPs, Ops Managers, and NDs all get a lot of tapes (or links) from people waiting for a slot to open up. It would be worthwhile to figure out what sort of shooting/editing you're best suited for and make a contact at that shop. Also - there are network bureaus in Dallas with network positions (if you don't mind travel). There is also Fox Sports, and production shops for the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Stars, and Texas Rangers. Point is, there are a lot of shooting/editing jobs in the market outside of traditional news.