Vox pops comes from the Latin vox populi – voice of the people. In reality, they are anything but. When the media conduct “man on the street” interviews, they rarely find anyone they weren’t looking for in the first place. It is unusual to hear from people who don’t care, don’t know or won’t vote – even if their numbers are huge on any issue. If the view or the voice doesn’t fit into the preconceived thesis of the story, then it doesn’t make the cut.
But every now and then reality intrudes. Either by chance or chutzpah – and often both – a character makes it in front of the camera who is either engaging or emblematic – and often both. Before there was the Tea Party there was Joe the Plumber, who was playing football with his son in the front garden in Holland, Ohio, when he seized an opportunity to buttonhole Obama about taxing small businesses. In Rochdale, Lancashire, in 2010, there was Gillian Duffy, heading off to the shops when she bumped into Gordon Brown and expressed her concerns about immigration. Brown chatted, complimented her family then, not realising his microphone was still on, branded her a bigot, making her the face of disillusionment with Labour’s cynicism and detachment. (The Guardian UK)
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