The overwhelming majority of Fox News Media staffers have been working remotely over the past few weeks. That may come to an end at this time next month.
Fox News Media chief executive Suzanne Scott held a conference call this morning to give employees an update on the overall state of the company. The top news from the call is that the company is now targeting May 4 as a possible “return to office date” for many of the employees who have been working remotely.
“While our new normal has led to long hours and more work for those getting our linear networks on air every day, my heartfelt gratitude goes to the dedicated teams who have continued to come to 1211 and all of those working in bureaus who have coordinated teams in the field each day to ensure we are able to meet the needs of delivering the news 24/7,” Scott said in a memo to staff. “Jay [Fox News president and executive editor Wallace] and I have been working alongside many of you here in the New York office each day throughout this crisis and we know how tough it has been to leave your homes each day. We appreciate your service, care and commitment.”
The company is now distributing thermometers to “essential employees” at the 1211 6th Ave. New York headquarters and other FNC bureaus. Those staffers are being asked to take their temperature each morning before going in. If their temperature is above 100.4°F, they cannot go in.
The company has also instructed those staffers to adhere to CDC protocols and wear a scarf or bandanna to cover nose and mouth if they’re unable to social distance in the office.
Six Fox News staffers have tested positive for the coronavirus since mid-March. In addition to directing most of its staff to work from home, the company has instituted programming changes in light of the cases, including ending all contributor appearances in studio. All guests will continue to appear via remotes.
Here’s the full memo Scott sent to staff, send minutes ago:
First and foremost, I want to thank everyone for their incredible dedication and hard work throughout this escalating pandemic, which is why I convened this morning’s company-wide employee address via conference call.
In this time of an unprecedented health and economic crisis, it’s our job to provide a public service to our viewers and it has been inspiring to see us come together for the benefit of the American people. Last night’s amazing virtual town hall anchored by Martha MacCallum in conjunction with Facebook exemplified this. Using Portal smart video calling devices for the first time ever across all of our platforms, we provided critical information and answers to viewers’ questions from Dr. Deborah Birx and Surgeon General Jerome Adams. I also just finished a call with the CEO of Feeding America and presented our joint donation of $1 million to their COVID-19 Response Fund. This organization was selected by FOX News Media leadership and marks the second donation this month from a Fox Corporation property to the non-profit COVID-19 Response Fund’s aligned charities — the first was associated with FOX’s iHeart Living Room Concert for America on Sunday night which aired on all our platforms and raised more than $10 million for Feeding America and the First Responders Children’s Foundation.
Despite a scaled back footprint and a dramatic transition to a remote workforce, we’ve continued to produce some of the most enterprising and informative coverage, from providing live overnight hours in the early days of the crisis to last week’s virtual town hall with the Coronavirus Presidential task force in the Rose Garden, to transforming flagship programs across both linear networks to remote makeshift studios, we have remained nimble in an incredibly fast-paced environment, for which we should all be very proud.
We have also launched a new editorial initiative this week, America Together which utilizes content from across our platforms showcasing the resilient American spirit and spotlighting uplifting stories of communities joining together to persevere in times of crises – a one-hour special encompassing all of this will air on FNC Sunday night at 9PM/ET. The PSA we launched this week in collaboration with the Ad Council also encapsulates this spirit, as does FOX News Digital’s initiative of soliciting inspiring images from the audience as they are living through this crisis.
While our new normal has led to long hours and more work for those getting our linear networks on air every day, my heartfelt gratitude goes to the dedicated teams who have continued to come to 1211 and all of those working in bureaus who have coordinated teams in the field each day to ensure we are able to meet the needs of delivering the news 24/7. Jay and I have been working alongside many of you here in the New York office each day throughout this crisis and we know how tough it has been to leave your homes each day. We appreciate your service, care and commitment.
To that end, please know that we are following all CDC guidelines for the work environment incorporating all necessary social/physical distancing across every area including control rooms, limiting interaction as much as possible and sanitizing all areas of the building. Next week we expect to be distributing thermometers to the essential workforce at 1211 and all of our bureaus for those who don’t have them, which individual managers in each department will be coordinating. We ask that everyone coming into our buildings please take your temperature each morning before coming to work — on the advice of several doctors we have been in constant consultation with, anyone with a temperature above 100.4°F should not be reporting to work. Additionally, we are following the latest CDC protocols on facial masks/coverings and would suggest at this time adhering to wearing a scarf or bandana to cover your nose and mouth if unable to social distance. As Dr. Fauci said this morning on FOX & Friends, “The better part of valor is that when you’re out and you can’t maintain that six foot distance, to wear some sort of facial covering. The important point to emphasize though is that should in no way ever take away from the availability of masks that are needed for the healthcare providers who are in real and present danger of getting infected from the people that they’re taking care of. So this is an addendum and an addition to the physical separation not as a substitute for it.”
We would also like to thank everyone who has seamlessly transitioned to telecommuting over the last three weeks. The number of people in NY and DC has steadily declined to only the minimum number of employees needed to execute our content and our remote workflows with departments like MPG and all the editing teams have been successful. To that end, we will be targeting Monday, May 4th for a possible return to work and we will update everyone on that over the next few weeks.
I also know how stressful this crisis has been for you and your families and your health and safety is our top priority. As always, there are multiple resources available to all employees, which include telemedicine options and the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), both of which are detailed on our intranet site, Backstage.
Over the past several weeks, the audience response to all of your hard work has been overwhelmingly positive — I hope all of you are equally gratified by serving millions of viewers at such a critical time in our nation’s history and are as proud as I am of our unrivaled news and analysis. Our content is driving historic linear and digital traffic records across the board, which proves we are providing the American public with the vital, trustworthy information they need across all of our platforms.
Our dedication to the audience and the ultimate public service we are providing to our viewers remains our most important job each day and we appreciate your immense efforts in delivering best in class news and analysis as we continue to work through these unprecedented times.
We will get through this together and please know how truly grateful I am for this extraordinary team.
Thank you for everything,