Saturday 23 November 2019

Pestering the public

Earlier this year, I wrote a column about the increasing use of vox pops in TV news bulletins. During the current election campaign, however, the bulletins seem to be stuffed with even more vox pops than ever. But why do we think this is? 
Once again, we took to the streets to find out. 
“I think vox pops are brilliant,” said Tristram Fatuous, 33, a TV news producer from London. “All right, so they’re almost without exception clich├ęd, banal, predictable and of absolutely no value to the viewer. But on the other hand, they’re an extremely cheap and easy way to fill up lots of time on air. And in the age of 24-hour news, that’s what really counts.” 
“Vox pops are important,” said Tarquin Ludicrous, 33, a TV news producer from London. “If we didn’t have vox pops, we’d have to do things like reporting and expert analysis. That sort of stuff is terribly old-fashioned and out of date. Much better just to spend the afternoon thrusting a microphone under the noses of startled shoppers and asking them whether they think politicians should ‘just get on with it’. In fact, there’s only one thing I like better than vox pops, and that’s ringing up a 22-year-old imbecile from a Left-wing blog and a 22-year-old imbecile from a Right-wing blog, and then offering them £75 each to come into the studio and have a confected row about a subject neither of them knows the first thing about.” 
“I would always defend the use of vox pops,” said Tamara Vacuous, 33, a TV news producer from London. “Ultimately in the future the news won’t contain any news. It’ll just be a solid half-hour of market stall holders in Stoke being pestered for their views on Brexit. By 2025 we estimate that it will be impossible to buy anything from a British market stall, because every single one of them will be permanently surrounded by a BBC news crew.” 
“As far as I can see, there’s only one problem with vox pops,” said Tabitha Bumptious, 33, a TV news producer from London. “Basically: we’ve now done so many vox pops, there’s no one left to vox pop. We’re going to have to start vox popping each other. Here, you wouldn’t mind telling us what you think of Labour’s plans for a second homes tax, would you?”

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