What would you have as a replacement for 'Close Up'?

By Grant Jacobs 27/09/2012 4

There’s talk that long-running New Zealand current affairs program Close Up is to close up.* Cease to be, that is.

On sciblogs, we talk about what we’d like to see media do a fair bit. Naturally our concerns mostly relate to science stories but these issues apply more widely, too.

What would readers like to see in a replacement of Close Up? (Let’s assume it’ll be news, rather than be replaced by reality TV or what-have-you.)

Here’s a short selection from the comments at Stuff. (I’m not endorsing these! Many comments there focus on the host; my including these examples is for the remarks on technique, not the man.)

Max: “Would it be that hard to have a serious current affairs show that doesn’t just go for sensationalist stories?”

tbird: “He’s [host Sainsbury] not as arrogant and unlikeable as Hoskings, and not as far left as Campbell. But he doesn’t listen in interviews, the person’s reply does not seem to affect the next question. And he only accepts sound bites – any explanation seems to annoy him.”

ohhhheeey: “The problem here is Mark Sainsbury because he asks such stupid questions. They need a new show with decent journalists that have a desire to fully investigate stories and present the facts to NZers, who are smart enough to understand. None of the one sided BS. Tell us the whole story and all the angles!! BRING BACK MIKE HOSKING!!!”

hector: “That will be a pity, it suits me but….as long as its replaced by decent journalism not soundbites, cooking or pseudo celebrity reality garbage I wont complain too much.”

Jase: [Just added for laughs.] “I would watch it if only Mark would shave that terrible mo! He’s probably a very good journalist but hard to take seriously with his nose so very badly underlined__”

Me? I can easily think of what I’d like less of. Among them journalism that is less gullible, less prone ‘false balance’ and other unhelpful practices. One off-the-cuff thought would be a format the took in fewer items, but examined them more diligently. Not everyone’s cup of tea (or coffee), but the brevity of news format limits it’s ability to explore issues and what can be left is mostly people’s ‘positions’ – a political and weak substitute for understanding.**


* I can’t resist opportunities to play on words…

** One end of that spectrum might be the BBC’s Hard Talk, which focuses on just one person or specific topic. While I personally like this approach for some things, provided the people and topic chosen are interesting and have nuance, it’s not what I’m thinking of here.

Other articles on Code for life:

Media reporting of subsequent findings

Dear journalist and editors,

Media thought: Ask what is known, not the expert’s opinion

Note to science communicators–alleles not ’disease genes’

When the abstract or conclusions aren’t accurate or enough

Science blogging in the New Zealand media

4 Responses to “What would you have as a replacement for 'Close Up'?”

  • Have to admit I’m disappointed at the lack of response! I guess people just don’t care what replaces it? Or perhaps it’s typical of the apathy in New Zealand?? If so—and that’s OK in it’s own way, it’d just be the way it is—then people will just have to accept what they get! If people want a particular thing, they need to let those deciding know…

    (Lest people think this futile, as an example my suggestions for TED(x) are getting heard in small, but, I think, meaningful way – see the comments there. Sciblogs is followed by some in the NZ media and word gets around in a small country…)

  • I would like to see a local ‘Science-in-NZ’ program that looks at developments in the broader science fields within NZ. I am sure we have some budding scientists who need a chance to promote their cause (& seek funding in the same breath) to the public.

  • The local newspaper is running a short piece favouring TVNZ to present a ‘Dinner’ counterpart to Breakfast, featuring Pippa Wetzell & Paul Henry :-(

    Earlier in the year we had the government can Media 7 (which IMHO is just as much to do with Ministers not being able to face reversing decisions when they’ve erred as anything else). I suppose we can take this as a cue that all investigative work will be thrown out? That anything resembling a ‘proper’ discussion is just too hard and lazy glitz is preferred?

    If I recall correctly Wetzell’s has previously been prone to mentions of ‘woo’ (bunk remedies and ideas).

  • Loose thought I meant to mention at the time: a thematic approach with one day a week for science-related material (other topics on other days). I personally prefer to have a decent chunk set aside for looking at one issue in depth, with discussion (not debate) probing what it’s about.

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