Outfoxed contains a bizarre segment with David Hnatiuk, identified as a “former Fox Music Supervisor”, where he claims to have invented the “Fox News Alert”, saying:
Probably 1999 [sic] I created the Fox News Alert. We were striving to accomplish a sense of urgency. Urgency in the sense that what was about to be delivered after the Fox News Alert was very important. Quote, unquote, shocking news. Specifically Columbine and all the other important news stories of that time.
Actually, the practice of displaying a graphic under a sound was not original to David Hnatiuk and Fox News. Video and audio Breaking News alerts have been in practice long before Fox News, or cable TV news, or cable TV, or TV.
Hnatiuk expresses curiosity that his “creation” is allegedly being misused by the network.
But now, looking back, now that I’m not there I find it interesting that I’ve seen the Fox News Alert used for stories like “Bennifer” J-Lo and Ben’s relationship. I mean this, compared to a school shooting, and there’s really no relationship to me and I don’t understand why, based on what we originally created it for, ah, why they would choose to use it for a news story like that; cause the sound and the visuals is associated, or originally was associated, with things that were much more important.
Hnatuik does not expand upon why exactly he is confused about reporting style at a news network evolving or what exactly about the one-second-long bell stroke sound and text displaying the date and and phrase “Fox News Alert” is so important that it would be journalistic malpractice to use for events less than the scale of a school shooting.
During Hnatuiks segment, Outfoxed shows the animated graphic logo for a Fox News Alert from 03.08.04, but doesn’t show the alerts content. It is also left unclear if Hnatuik’s claim to have “seen the Fox News Alert used for stories like ‘Bennifer’” is meant to be a vague complaint for literally “stories like Bennifer” or testimony to have actually seen a Fox News Alert concerning the relationship between Ben Afleck and Jennifer Lopez.
Common sense suggests that if this were a literal allegation, Hnatuik would have left no doubt and not choosed the words “stories like” to precede the example. This, combined with Outfoxed lack of pressing the issue or giving any examples of developments in tabloid stories being treated as important breaking news suggest that Hnatuik is not actually claiming to have witnessed such an example and is merely using a “some people say” type technique to avoid citing an actual example that may or may not exist.
Assumedly an example of a story Outfoxed thinks is a misuse of a breaking news alert – the one and only example given in the film – is a development concerning Martha Stewart’s conviction in the ImClone stock trading case. Fox anchor David Asman introduces the segment before the films editing fades him out. The lower third title bar reads: Martha Stewart Leaves Fed CT After Probation Meeting (an event that was treated as important news by every major news outlet)
David Asman: And this is a Fox News Alert. A very busy day for Martha Stewart. Earlier today she met with her parole officer…
Outfoxed quickly fades to black, not allowing the viewer to see and therefore judge the content of the Alert.
Further, the implication that the Fox News Alert is routinely used for frivolous non-alerting stories is false.
Bowling For Truth was unable to find a single example of the Fox News Alert being used in a story that descends to the non-importance level of something like a celebrity romance.