Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes sent a memo Thursday to producers, shows, talent and executives involved in executing a new vision led by Shepard Smith — one that makes him the face of a new, breaking-news division.
Ailes’ memo, which was obtained by Business Insider, comes four days before the launch of the Ailes system, which he created as the newly established breaking-news division led by Smith.
Smith told Business Insider last month that the idea was first hatched during a dinner between Smith and Ailes in Manhattan four months ago.
Smith’s new role is part of a push from the network to modernize the way news is presented by “escaping the boundaries of the traditional evening newscast.” Smith
will be the managing editor of the breaking-news division, while continuing in his position as Chief News Anchor.
He’ll continue anchoring the 3 p.m. hour on the network, in a program called “Shepard Smith Reporting.” He’ll anchor from “The Fox News Deck,” a newly constructed, signature studio with state-of-the-art technology. From there, Smith will hop in to deliver breaking news throughout the day as it happens.
“The talent will be more like an NFL quarterback with the ability to call audibles when he sees openings,” Ailes wrote in the memo. “We will move seamlessly between the teleprompter and storytelling, and the public will have an opportunity to see how the news is being put together and how the programs are built.”
Here’s the full memo from Ailes:
“As we approach our 17th anniversary at FOX News, we are beginning to dramatically change the way news is presented to the public. This has been a vision of mine for several years. I always felt that the most powerful means of communications (video) was restricted to a tape mark, a teleprompter, a talent reading and a control room. That should not be true today.
The NEWS DECK STUDIO which I envisioned has been pretty much completed and Monday starting with Shep’s 3pm program, news will be integrated throughout the evening. Shep and I are both excited about this new approach. Control of the program will be split between the studio and an off-camera control room. The producer’s function and director’s function will change somewhat.
The talent will be more like an NFL quarterback with the ability to call audibles when he sees openings. We will move seamlessly between the teleprompter and storytelling, and the public will have an opportunity to see how the news is being put together and how the programs are built. This will be more organic in terms of the feed sources including video, all digital, and even social media.
I expect there to be a few mistakes along the way because this is a high wire act without a net going live to the public. Any mistakes, however, will not justify changing the need for a special talent presenting the news and using the most updated technology to inform our public.
I know everyone has worked hard to get ready for the October 7th launch. I expect the innovations I’ve envisioned to be a cutting edge news presentation and I have confidence in all of you to deliver it. If something goes wrong, don’t be afraid to let the audience in on what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Don’t apologise for trying to speed up how, when, and where people get their news. Do your best. Thank you for everything you’ve done so far.”
Smith’s “The Fox Report” will not air Thursday and Friday nights to give Smith and his team time to prepare for the launch on Monday. “The Five” will air in its place.
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