The ‘public sphere’ is a metaphor used to describe the way in which information, ideas and opinions are circulated within a society (p. 7, McKee). According the German sociologist Jürgen Habermas, who first explored the idea, the public sphere is a realm within social life in which public opinion can be formed and which is accessible to all (אני, 2011).
Q&A is an Australian talk show, broadcasted on ABC1 and hosted by award-winning journalist Tony Jones. The program is a panel type format whereby five public figures; usually politicians, media personalities and celebrities, answer questions provided by a live studio audience (ABC TV Blog, 2010). What makes Q&A such a great example for the debate in the public sphere is that as the show is being broadcasted live across the Australian east coast, the audience can share their opinions on the topics at hand by using the hashtag ‘#qanda’ on twitter whereby the tweets, although moderated for profanity or offensive material, are shown on the screen for home audiences to view. As political or social issues are being discussed by the studio audience and panellists, the wider public also air their concerns and opinions about the topics.
However the program hasn’t come without its own condemnations in the public sphere. Q&A has been long criticised by some News Crop Australia media outlets, in a widespread campaign against the ABC management for appearing to be bias to the left wing in both affiliations/ views expressed by panellists and questions asked by audience participants.
The upcoming episode, to air on 14th April (and also available on iView), will feature a completely female panel which includes notable politicians and businesswomen. (ABC,2014)