A local television news team suddenly doesn’t have any paper to throw away at the end of its newscasts. WFXL-FOX 31 is using five newly released Apple iPads, which station officials say makes the newsroom more efficient and environmentally green, to boot.
“It’s a great feeling to walk off the set and not to have to throw away a stack of paper,” said FOX 31 anchor Mirada Del Pozo. “As technology changes, we have to change with it.
The iPad is a tablet computer released to the public this month that uses a multi-touch LCD display and wireless connections to browse the internet, load and stream media, and install software.
“When the iPads were first introduced, I can recall talking with Vincent Hunt, WFXL FOX 31′s interactive managing editor, about the many different features this item carried and how great it would be if we could use them with our news programs, not just for the new technical aspects of this device had to offer but to eliminate using paper products and saving our business thousands of dollars each month in associated costs,” said Ken Clubb, FOX 31’s chief engineer.
All of the FOX anchors use iPADs, meaning that paper scripts are now obsolete at the station.
“The biggest obstacle we had to overcome seemed to be how we were going to interface this new Apple iPad with older and very preparatory PC-based software such as AP News Center,” Hunt said. “With a little trip outside the normal thinking box the solution was simple. Just print scripts from AP using a simple freeware PDF print driver and e-mail it to each host iPad e-mail account. No wires, emulating software or many wasted head banging hours on configurations needed, just e-mail it.”
Station officials estimates that iPads will quickly pay for themselves by saving $800 per month in paper costs and printer-maintenance fees. FOX 31 is the first Barrington station to make the switch from paper to iPads.
“I would venture to say that the Barrington management team will evaluate our findings and possibly lay the groundwork for the rest of their portfolio,” said FOX 31 News Director Terry Graham. “The challenge was finding the appropriate app to successfully navigate the scripts in an intuitive way, allowing the anchors and support staff to retain their natural flow of how they use scripts. The unexpected benefits are a greater sense of connectivity, and it also brings those using the iPads much closer to information. All information sources are at their fingertips at all times, literally.”
“We want to enhance the way our journalists gather information; this is an inherited benefit to the device. We want to utilize live engagement with social media outlets, and incorporate an instant messaging system from the producers and directors to the anchors at the desk.”
What would Hunt say to devil’s advocates who say that iPad’s uses are limited and that the station’s use of them is nothing more than trendy?
“The truth is,” Hunt said, “incorporating the iPads on the anchor desk would be a very wise business decision for all broadcasting companies, especially in this day and age when stretching a dollar is so very important …
“Apple has always shown genius in the area of human centered design, and the iPad is no different … Do we look trendy? Absolutely, that’s an inherent trait of being a market leader (and) innovator.”