It’s a tough time for many news outlets, but the Radio and Television Digital News Association says some TV stations are starting to weather the storm. A recent study shows that only 400 local TV news employees lost their jobs in 2009. That’s pretty high, but 1,200 lost their jobs in 2008.

The study goes on to say that the remaining employees are more efficient than ever:

Even as staffing fell, the amount of news on the average station rose to another record high of five hours per weekday. That’s up from last year’s record 4.7 hours.

The best news in this year’s survey regards planned staff changes in 2010. In a dramatic turnaround from a year ago, over 60 percent of TV news directors say they expect staffing levels to stay the same. That’s up nearly 20 points from a year ago. The number expecting a decrease in staffing dropped 77 percent from a year ago, and the percentage expecting an increase in staff went up by 145 percent.

Station profitability on news dropped slightly, but the percentage of station revenue produced by news remained the same.

2009 started with 770 TV stations producing original local news, shared with another 205 stations for a total of 975 using the content. Going into 2010, a net loss of eight stations left 762 stations producing original local news, and sharing it with another 224, for a total of 986 stations.

Only one network affiliate simply dropped local news completely in 2009. Most of the cuts involved independent stations, and most wound up continuing to run local news but getting it from another station.

But what about the quality of that news?