ESTABLISHMENT SHOT OF BUSY TV NEW5-room: computer monitors, assignment board, hectic news staff with coats and coffee cups askew gathering the day’s top stories. The camera pulls back to reveal attractive 5 o’clock anchor Ashleigh Banfield standing tail, clipboard in hand, ready to deliver the news. But why doesn’t she sit down? What happened to the old studio set where staid anchors sit behind a clunky news desk making happy talk?
Channel 4 news director Bruce Halsford defends the station’s new stand-and-deliver approach, claiming it ’’puts the news back in the newsroom” and brings a higher energy level. Since the old format had left Fox 4 a distant third in the local news race, it was desperate for a fresh look that would capture Fox’s younger, hipper audience. “It’s lots of live segments, lots of action, lots of rock V roll,” says a local reporter at a competing station.
All this added edge may make viewers edgier as they watch reporters fumble with clipboards. Viewers might also anxiously anticipate that, with everyone in the newsroom standing around waiting, some late-breaking news flash is about to happen-but it seldom does.
Halsford says the station has made a long-term commitment to the change. And with gimmicky Fox Network endorsing the new format, who knows what’s next: John Criswell singing the news before a live studio audience?