Shepard Smith Interview…

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.

6 Responses to “Shepard Smith Interview…”

  1. I thought that the point of bringing the control room into the studio was to try to keep breaking news on cable relevant – attracting viewers by simulating the kinds of multiple information feeds that we’re increasingly using now through our various connected devices.

    I think the Boston Marathon bombing was the last time I went straight to cable news once I heard about a breaking story. Now, I’m more likely to have multiple web pages on my computer screens and iPad while the big screen telly has a Twitter feed showing. There’s no reason to rush to CNN or FNC as they’ll be repeating the same things over and over for hours anyway.

  2. What I’ve seen of this Fox Deck is Shep running around to different screens to tell us stuff we already saw on our own laptop, tablet and phone screens. Maybe somebody at the network thinks it looks cool, but I don’t see how it’s any more interesting than the standard anchor-and-guests shots on other shows/channels.

  3. Exactly. But, and I just now thought of this, Shep’s running around somehow plays differently when it’s a break-in on the local affiliate. I’m not sure, but I don’t think this is always a simulcast of what’s showing on FNC.

  4. The “news deck” reminds me of the gimmicks that MTP are now using and the holograms and other gimmicks CNN tried out in the last election cycle. For me at least; they all have the same effect of distracting from what the host is saying. Shep is a good host and that wouldn’t change if he were delivering the news from behind a desk.

    BTW: I think one of the the worst new gadgets, that has permeated all the cable nets over recent years, are those large interactive monitors that never seem to work properly but hosts love to play with. They have a place in sports TV, diagraming a play for the audience, but having an anchor draw circles with his finger around states on a map of the US is just a waste of time; particularly when you know where he’s talking about and you have to wait three seconds for the circle to appear on the map. Assuming your audience is too dumb to know where Colorado or Florida is located is never a good idea.

  5. Fritz: I really hate to say this but I believe there are a lot of stupid viewers out there. I use an example of a class exercise at NYU where my daughter went to school. A 50 student class was given a map of the US along with a list of the 25 largest cities along with their states listed. i.e St. Louis, Missouri.

    My daughter was the last person to finish because she knew where every city was. When she finally finished the professor took her map, verified that all were correct and then had the balance of the class exchange maps to correct them. The rest of the class had an average of 50% correct. The professor then asked where my daughter was from and when she said Wisconsin, the professor said that was why she got them all correct. There was only 1 other Midwestern student in the class, the balance being from the east and west coast. In what you would think of as a fairly educated group of students was a total lack of knowledge go geography of our own country.

    Many people are left and right coast centric and have little knowledge about our country as a WHOLE!

    IMHO

  6. Pam, I agree that there are plenty of cable news viewers that have little or no knowledge of geography. I know a few personally.

    My point wasn’t that you shouldn’t use a map showing where the states are located but rather that it (or the host) should be in a window or on a set monitor and that the show producers should control what is highlighted on the map. That way the info can given and the host can on concentrate on reading the teleprompter. That’s what used to happen and it worked fine. Using, what is in effect, a video chalk/whiteboard is just a silly gimmick.

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