Brian Edwards Media

Posts Tagged 'Vox Pops'

‘Er, I dunno really…’ Time to dispense with vox pops on the news?

The first television programme I ever appeared on was the Christchurch edition of the regional magazine Town and Around. The programme was on four nights a week and I was paid $18 for each item I produced. You still got paid if the film was lost in processing, which it frequently was, so in a good week I could earn $90 for five items, which was a small fortune in those days.

Along with host Bernard Smyth and reporters John O’Sullivan, Judi Douglas and David McPhail, we turned out three or four items from the region each night on everything from the closing of the Dobson mine to teaspoon collections and concrete garden ornaments. If there was a gap in the programme, we went out and did a vox pop. The word comes from the Latin vox populi, meaning ‘the voice of the people’.

These days you can see vox pops on pretty well every major news bulletin and occasionally on Close Up and Campbell Live. But they’re very different to the vox pops we had on the Town and Around programmes in the four main centres.  Our vox pops were three or four minutes long and we put the question to a lot more people in the street, maybe ten or more. So you got a reasonable, if entirely unscientific, sample of public opinion.

Compare this with the average news vox pop today. Three or four people will be considered an adequate sample; children, drunks and assorted mental defectives will be regarded as acceptable commentators; neighbours and bystanders will be treated as reliable witnesses and sometimes as forensic experts; five seconds will rate as sufficient for the expression of a considered opinion; and scant regard will be paid to the meaning of what was said in order to keep to that duration.

Here are two examples from this week’s news. Read the rest of this entry »