UPDATED: Fox News Sets Shepard Smith At Top of New Breaking-News Unit

Fox News veteran to have freedom to interrupt other programming as events dictate

Shepard Smith Fox News
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When news breaks at Fox News Channel, Shepard Smith’s face is the one the network wants viewers to see.

The cable-news outlet said Smith, a veteran anchor who has been with Fox News since its inception in 1996, would lead a new breaking-news division as managing editor while continuing as chief news anchor of the network, which is owned by 21st Century Fox. The new arrangement is part of Smith’s new multi-year deal to remain with the network.

The new role is aimed at offering a new way to present important news across the network, according to a press release from Fox News. It will also open up an hour during Fox News’ evening lineup, which Megyn Kelly is expected to join in coming weeks.

As part of a shift expected to take place this fall, “The FOX Report with Shepard Smith,” the network’s signature 7 p.m. newscast,  will be made part of a breaking-news unit to which Smith will dedicate anchoring and reporting when domestic and international events unfold. The newsman will continue to anchor at 3 p.m,. weekdays, with the debut of a new one-hour program called “Shepard Smith Reporting,” and will give viewers a sense of how news is gathered by using social media and other technologies.

The show will be broadcast from a newly constructed signature studio known as “The FOX News Deck.” Fox News said this “command center” will use real-time news feeds, digital media newsgathering and new state-of-the-art technology.

Smith and his team will have the freedom to interrupt all other programming on the network as deemed necessary to bring viewers breaking news and associated developments.

In an interview, Smith said the new role would allow his team to organize breaking-news coverage, confirming details , working up perspective, analysis and historical context and even trying to make sense of information found on Twitter, while giving producers at Fox News’ regularly scheduled programs time to arrange for their shows to react with guests and commentary. Above all, he suggested, the move would continue to keep news reporting on the network separate from opinion and commentary.

“We’ll be able to go from a program on the air and they’ll come to me to give the news, and my team will be working in a parallel universe from theirs. We will have a hot control room, separate editors, separate studios, separate phones. So I can deliver the news and they can take care of the programming. It’s difficult to do both, and this makes sense,” Smith said, adding. “That firewall I’m really proud of between programming and news gets higher.”

Fox News’ maneuver comes as rival MSNBC has lost some of its footing during breaking-news events. That network, owned by NBCUniversal, has cast itself as a center for commentary and analysis, and in doing so, has ceded some ground to the TIme Warner-owned CNN in recent months.

Smith will “exemplify the ethos that Fox News is when and where the news is, as it happens, no longer bound by a traditional evening format conceived in the 1960’s,” said Roger AIles, chairman and chief executive of Fox News, in a prepared statement included in the release.

Smith has anchored “The FOX Report with Shepard Smith” since its debut in 1999.   Smith also anchors the afternoon news program ‘Studio B,” which, launched in 2002.

The wide-ranging deal was negotiated for Smith by Larry Kramer of New York’s Kramer Talent Management.