Playing It Safe with the Vox Pops

By Mosey, Roger | New Statesman (1996), April 24, 2015 | Go to article overview

Playing It Safe with the Vox Pops


Mosey, Roger, New Statesman (1996)


If there's one thing the election debates have failed to do it's to capture the depth and range of opinion of the voters. The row instigated by Nigel Farage about the BBC audience for the so-called challengers' debate focused on whether some opinions were applauded more than others, which is a sign of just how uncontroversial the public's appearances have been in those events so far. What we've had is polite people putting polite questions, and the ITV leaders' debate in Salford was so well organised that for most of the transmission you hardly knew there was an audience at all. It was therefore more reassuring than alarming that the people assembled by the BBC at Central Hall in Westminster occasionally proved that they hadn't dozed off.

For these big events, broadcasters want to be fair but they also know that the parties would be unforgiving if a debate generated an awkward encounter between politician and public--of which the classic remains Diana Gould's televised interrogation of Margaret Thatcher about the sinking of the Belgrano during the 1983 campaign. But this desire to avoid ruffling feathers seems to be the instinct when the public is allowed to speak in the most viewed news bulletins, too. The BBC has been running a series entitled "My Election", which features voters from around the country, and it is pleasant viewing--but it seems to focus on nice people doing picturesque things, whether it's going for walks in the Peak District expressing mild worries about planning or bantering amiably at their fishmonger's stall.

Vox pops, as they are universally known in newsrooms, are a staple element of many reports year round. Even outside a campaign, they tend to be rigidly balanced--so an interviewee in the street who thinks the NHS is marvellous will be followed by one who thinks it needs improvement. It perks up a piece otherwise full of talking heads but it is seldom illuminating. In campaign reporting, I was struck by the blandness of many of the vox pops featured in the run-up to the Scottish referendum. There was the battle you could witness being fought on social media, with its raw emotion and at times brutality, and then the standard Yes/No fodder that appeared in the flagship news programmes.

I had a similar insight at the recent Lincoln parliamentary hustings at Bishop Grosseteste University. There was a passion that gets squeezed out of a lot of the broadcasting, whether it's the commitment to issues close to students' hearts or the anger at a disenfranchising political system. This is of a piece with some views that are underplayed in the media: a report for the BBC Trust in 2013 identified the relative absence from the airwaves of the case being made for the renationalisation of the energy companies or for active trade unionism--opinions held by millions on the left--or for private education and more private health care from the right. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Playing It Safe with the Vox Pops
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.