WGN America’s [NewsNation] Debuts As Primetime News Force



The goals for the project were clearly set right from the beginning by Nexstar: ‘do something unique in a short amount of time’. Aiming for a design that was visually on par with ‘heavy-hitter’, primetime competitors that helped to visually define the brand for this new network we created a space that allowed for flexibility of both show rundown and look during the unusually long 3-hour run-time.

The desk itself utilizes adjustable modesty panels so it can shrink and expand from two anchors to a 270-degree discussion for six. The Weather area is complete with satellite staging options and there is a breaking news area at the other end of the studio with touchscreen and ped camera. The Space is built for opportunities, including the automated LED panels on the north side of the studio. Not to mention, there is a practical second level and stairs that will get used for special reporter hits.

The national coverage is organized by six geographic zones that feature individual stories which together weave into the news for the whole country. This is explicitly and metaphorically demonstrated with the six LED panels that can play separate, as 1 or in groupings.  Time-zone clocks on the second level west wall nod to a traditional broadcast visual, but with the lens of the six zones central to WGNA.

Leaning into the motif associated with the [News Nation] logo created by Troika, WGNA’s trademark brackets become a key element of the studio design. Thinking critically about how the show was airing out of the midwest (Chicago), abstracted ornamental language alluding to the crop circles of the area found their way all throughout the space. A motif that gives life to the design vocabulary and helped us define the brand visually for the network throughout the entire scope.

Unlike any starting point we’ve seen before, the WGNA Newsroom started as a 12,000 square foot attic space was mostly being used for equipment storage. It didn’t have any of the infrastructure necessary for a functional office, much less a broadcast environment. The challenge was to create a functional, beautiful environment aesthetically aligned with the studio, while also enabling national news coverage supported by News Nation’s six dedicated geographic teams across the country.

The newsroom desk is specifically designed for social media hits. With an impressive amount of tech integrated into the unit, each talent position is able to have its own mini-broadcast setup complete with a webcam, microphone, and dashboard. Also equipped with a soft seating area for informal interviews and multiple flexible pivoting/tracking AV elements, the newsroom lends itself to a multitude of functionalities and broadcast capabilities.

The layout of the newsroom was informed by the need for six “zone editors” to coordinate with the broader editorial team. Since the newsroom features a 2,000 square foot open broadcast area, the newsroom is seen as a background in a variety of shots. Paying attention to detail with branding for the zone editor bays, as well as custom light channel monitor wraps that mimic the bracketed News Nation logo around several bays of competition monitors. Finally, we introduced limestone, wood, blue, and metallic finishes throughout the space to align with the material finishes in the studio environment.

WGNA [NewsNation] launched September 1st, 2020.

Learn more about the WGNA Newsroom and Studio here.