A major redesign by Fox News of its live TV newsroom has been met with derision from internet-users who have compared the new look to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and the set of Star Trek.
In a video explaining the changes, news anchor Shepard Smith says: “From the lights to the floor everything has changed – and for good reason, because you’ve changed as well.”
The 'revolutionary' news-room includes giant screens showing incoming tweets, a 38-foot video wall controlled by a device resembling a Wii remote and – most conspicuously – a fleet of 55-inch touch screens dubbed BATs – "big-area touch screens".
Writing for The Verge, T.C. Sottek described the new look as “breathtakingly ridiculous” noting that whilst Smith can certainly use the video-wall to move pictures about, doing so serves “no apparent journalistic purpose.”
One Twitter user asked the news team "Did you build giant iPads or make smaller newspeople?" while others were quick to point out the flaws of the news-gathering tools, with many pointing out that the touch-screens being used are Microsoft’s Perspective Pixels - $8,000 devices with only 1080p resolution.
Stretching this resolution to fill a 55-inch screen will hardly create the sharpest picture quality and considering how the screens are apparently being used (the video shows one man scrolling through a single Twitter feed - a feat more easily accomplished on a smartphone) it seems that the redesign is more for the benefit of the viewer at home than the journalist trying to work on camera.
Smith said: “Just like you we get our news from multiple platforms, and this is the place where viewers can watch us sort it all out as it happens.”
This approach is not dissimilar to the BBC’s new premises at Broadcasting House, which includes glass walls and a view of the newsfloor. Viewers and BBC staff alike have complaining about the layout, with journalists complaining that they felt like "pandas in a zoo".
Those watching the news have been equally unimpressed when they have spotted BBC staff engaging in horse-play behind the news reader. One viewer tweeted: "Man talking gravely about floods on BBC News, Adults in background pretending their umbrellas are lightsaber".
At least the Fox journalists will have their hands full with the BATs, though they will need to remember quite how visible their screens are - just in case that quick game of solitaire suddenly becomes very public.