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Seven Sharp will need to beef up its journalism

Seven Sharp will need to beef up its journalism, says UC media expert


February 5, 2013

A University of Canterbury (UC) media expert says TVNZ’s Seven Sharp programme will need to beef up its journalism if it’s to carry the mantle of current affairs.

UC senior journalism lecturer Tara Ross said the programme launched last night on the same day that Solid Energy’s chief executive Don Elder quit, yet there was no analysis of what that might mean for the state owned enterprise (SOE).

``Instead, we were given a fluffy tour of parliament, a promotion for a music gig, and an awkwardly placed story about one man’s battle with post-traumatic stress disorder and all pre-recorded. The stories weren’t so current and offered nothing that we wouldn’t see at 6pm.

``When the New Zealand Herald launched its new format it did so with significant stories. There was none of that journalistic drive here. Where was the passion to tell a good story or get viewers thinking? Good current affairs stories should pose a question; Seven Sharp’s stories didn’t do that.

``I don’t want to see John Key’s office kitchen. I want to see public watchdog journalism. Ask Key the hard questions about the economic health of our SOEs. Don’t run an asinine poll on the role of escort at Waitangi; explain why it became an issue. Focus less on the format and more on in-depth journalism. Is it current affairs? You’d have to say not yet,’’ Ross said.

She said she applauded the producers for attempting to connect with audiences to promote TVNZ as a place where news discussion could happen. But she was not sure they achieved that last night. A handful of Facebook opinions did not amount to a discussion. But they were right about needing to get to grips with social media and the online audience.

Research in the US confirms the trend is to mobile news. Nearly a third of all US adults now get their news on tablets and smartphones and people’s news consumption is increasingly an anytime, anywhere affair.

``My research with Pacific audiences has found similar habits here, especially among young people. They’re regular and avid news consumers, but they get their news on their phones and computers in their own time and not at 7 sharp.

``The challenge for the programme’s producers will be how to generate the discussion they say is their key focus if the audience is looking elsewhere for news and how to generate a discussion that rises above the superficiality of Facebook polls. We were invited to tweet and we were invited to vote, but what were we invited to think about?’’

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