Fox News has just unveiled a breathtakingly ridiculous newsroom, complete with novelty-sized Windows-based touchscreens, a Twitter wall, and a wannabe Minority Report-style display, which it hopes will connect it with generations of viewers who use smartphones and apps.
In a video that could be mistaken for a College Humor or Saturday Night Live parody, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith walks viewers through the network's new setup, which includes workstations with 55-inch touchscreen monitors. In the video, journalists swipe through pages and apps, presumably collecting information for live reporting. "We call these BATs," Smith notes. "Big area touchscreens."
Smith later demonstrates a gigantic 38-foot-long video wall with a device "never been used in broadcast television before." It's a remote control that allows Smith to shuffle through an image carousel with no apparent journalistic purpose. "For instance, I can take this lady who's been evacuating from a hurricane zone and move it over here," Smith says.
"For instance, I can take this lady who's been evacuating from a hurricane zone and move it over here."
Fox says the new "news deck" is designed to appeal to viewers who are "nonlinear" — those who sift through news all day on their phones and computers. "Just like you, we get our news from multiple platforms," Smith says, "and this is the place where viewers can watch us sort it all out as it happens." In other words, Fox's new newsroom will serve as a fact-checking machine for Twitter's firehose.
Of course, despite its insistence that its new news room represents a cutting-edge way of gathering and reporting news, Fox isn't the first to use Twitter and other social channels to guide and fill its unremitting news cycle — and it's also not the first network to use absurd gimmicks to seize an edge over the competition. Smith says his team has spent "weeks" training to use the new software — but we'll have to wait and see if Fox has managed to algorithmically translate its "fair and balanced" reporting.