Most radio journalists will have done it: voxpops.
It’s this dreadful thing where you walk to strangers in the middle of the street and ask them about whatever topic you are working on: Should Greece leave the euro? Who will win the next election? Should the royal family pay taxes?
Of course, as a producer and editor I have also asked reporters in the past to voxpop people. But in time I have become more reluctant to it. I wonder whether it’s fair to all of a sudden place a mic in front of someone and expect them to give me a well thought through answer in 15 seconds. Most of them don’t even know what we are talking about.
I particularly started to loathe a tv’s favourite: general knowledge questions – from naming the capital city of USA to the name of the French president to the telling who wrote the Anne Frank Diary. Under pressure people will say the most silly things.
In the end everyone is gobsmack by the low level of knowledge these random people who were simply enjoying their day out shopping. Think about it. Would you sound as intelligent and coherent if all of a sudden you found yourself in a sort of The Weakest Link with no warning whatsoever? Would you be able to name the five nations in the UN Security Council in a snap? Or know how many states are part of the USA? Or say the name of the King of Spain?
I do wonder sometimes whether voxpops could equal lazy journalism. While opinions matter, would the means justify the ends?