Jay Wallace

VP of News Editorial, Fox News Channel

Why This Matters

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In rhythm with news cycles

Jay WallaceJay Wallace, Fox News Channel's VP of news editorial, has spent the last year and half living the 2008 presidential campaign. The long, contentious and often surreal race, and its historically significant conclusion, will be a defining chapter in many news careers.

After eight years of the Bush administration, Fox News—which is largely circumscribed by conservative firebrands such as Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck—has gained viewers during the Democratic administration of Barack Obama.

For Wallace, that is proof that he's doing his job. “I've personally seen this happen with every major event in our 13-year history,” he says, noting the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the contested 2000 presidential election, Sept. 11, the start of the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina and the current economic meltdown. “Time after time, when we get a ratings spike with a huge story, a chunk of those first-time viewers never leave the tent.”

Wallace's purview is the network's news coverage. He leaves the punditry to others. He came up through the ranks at Fox News, rising from a grunt job on the overnight desk when Fox News launched in 1996 to Northeast bureau chief and then to executive producer of The Fox Report With Shepard Smith, a position he held for four years.

In rhythm with news cycles

His time with the Smith show has given him a special appreciation for the ground the network has covered in the past 13 years. “We used to just keep up with the news cycles,” he says. “Now we're ahead of the news cycles.”

The frenetic pace of the newsroom is the setting where Wallace is most at home: “I love the hyper atmosphere of it.”

He was first bitten by the news bug while in college at Hofstra University, when he went to work at News 12, a small Long Island cable channel. While he was there, TWA Flight 800 exploded over the Atlantic Ocean, south of Long Island.

“My roommates all worked at News 12,” he recalls. “One was the editor; another was a photographer. We were just a bunch of kids making 24-hour news.”

Wallace stills exudes a workmanlike manner. And since he's done so many jobs during his tenure at Fox News, he often finds himself as a sounding board for the rank-and-file. “Now I go out in the field and the truck guys and engineers, they want to vent,” he says. “I think people identify with the fact that I've done these jobs.” —Marisa Guthrie