People Engaged with Politics and Society?

Q&A host Tony Jones, with authors Howard Jacobson and Leslie Cannold.

I recently had a discussion with a friend of mine about the quality of the show Q&A, on ABC1. He compared the show to 60 Minutes, contending that while it ‘presents the trappings of serious journalism’ (ie a panel composed of a variety of political persuasions and chaired by a credible journalist) and is clearly targeted at “thinking people”, input from the audience (both live and in their homes) as well as a constant display of tweets makes serious examination of issues impossible.
I disagree. Based on Q&A’s goals, I think it does a great job:

“Q&A puts punters, pollies and pundits together in the studio to thrash out the hot issues of the week.  It’s about democracy in action – on Q&A the audience gets to ask the questions.  It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you’re from – everyone can have a go and take it up to our politicians and opinion makers.  Energetic and opinionated – Q&A brings Australia’s egalitarian and larrikin spirit into the studio.  Q&A is about encouraging people to engage with politics and society.” 

I think on this last point, the show does a particularly good job.

I accept that the twitters on Q&A are a little distracting, but they do inject a bit of levity into the program. And with so many people contributing — panelists, audience, home viewers — I will concede that the pace of the show is rather frantic, but that’s part of its beauty. With so many diverse contributors, we also get a good feel for what society feels passionate about.

To me, Q&A has a similar pace and feel to Insight (SBS): much ground is covered, but in bite sized portions. Even with its audiences (live and at home) I still think Q&A manages to cover as much ground as more serious journalistic programs, like Insiders on the ABC, and no doubt attracts a wider audience.

About Sonia Bowditch

Writer on society and culture in Australia. And short stories.

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