Capital New York’s Alex Weprin interviews Shepard Smith…
“Despite all the technology, it was really created for the super news computer that is Shep,” Jay Wallace, the senior V.P. of news and senior E.P. of news and politics for Fox told Capital. “[He] obviously processes things a lot faster than anyone else.”
In his role as lead news anchor, Smith has the authority to break into other Fox News programs if there is breaking news.
“It depends on what is happening in the news cycle,” Smith told Capital when asked how they decide when to break in. “Right now we have a couple of kids shot in a cafeteria in a school…”
“We have to stop for a minute,” a stage manager said to Smith. They were going to break into the 2 p.m. program, “The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson.”
Smith would spend the next one hour and 20 minutes covering the school shooting, in Marysville, Wash. That coverage included a “level two” break-in for local affiliates, giving them the option of carrying his coverage of the shooting. There would be no commercial breaks, and nothing in the TelePrompter. Smith worked off of what he saw on-screen, what he heard in his earpiece and what he read on blue slips of paper handed to him by his staff.
And then there’s this…
“When we first introduced it, people were like, oh those are gimmick TVs in the background. That is not the case,” Wallace said. “Shep makes a point to go in and use the information specialists. He is relying on them, and they rely on him to quarterback it all. It really is a give and take between the technology, the people, our assignment desk and our reporters in the field.”
I’m going to disagree with this to a point. The “gimmick” of the Fox News Deck, if you want to use that word, is that it has taken what was traditionally handled by the control room news staff behind the scenes and moved it, or at the very least super augmented it, into the studio with the anchor.
From a purely informational standpoint, there is little that the news deck provides that couldn’t be duplicated or hasn’t been duplicated in the past by the control room. What does set it apart is that the level of interaction the anchor has, where he can go to any information he thinks worth checking in on, would not be possible if all that information was still confined to the control room. So from a visual standpoint it does amp the news. But it doesn’t necessarily mean you are getting more news than you would have if all those people were back in the control room. It’s just a more interesting, or compelling, way of doing what was done previously.