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Lesson 4: Vox Pop interviews

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Chris Thomas

on 30 September 2014

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Transcript of Lesson 4: Vox Pop interviews

Vox-pop interviews

(primary research)
In this lesson, you will:

Plan a vox-pop interview
Carry out a vox-pop interview

Lesson objectives:
A vox pop is where journalists go out into the street to ask members of the public for their views.

Journalists usually conduct these in public places where
you can find many different kinds of people.

The name comes from "vox populi" - Latin for voice of the people.
You must plan a vox-pop interview relating to your research.

Use the Interview Preparation Sheet to construct a short vox pop interview that is:

Clear and simple

You must also write a short introduction to your chosen subject in case need to bring your interviewees up to speed.

Remember: filling out the Interview Preparation Sheet will contribute towards your grade for Task 1.

Vox pop practical
What is a vox pop?
What part will vox-pops
play in your report?
They will accompany your main report in the same way that the vox pops below accompany this report about the presidential debate.

Why have vox pops?
To report public opinion and reaction to a story.

Your readers probably identify more with 'everyday' men and women like them instead of politicians or experts.

When these people are heard, readers know that “normal people”, very much like themselves, have a place in your newspaper or magazine.

1) You must use open-ended questions instead of closed questions.

2) Questions must be neutral.

3) Use as few questions as possible.

4) Use positive body language and act professionally.
Four rules for good vox pops
Open-ended questions
Neutral questions
Using as few questions as possible
It is important that you always ask the same question and that it is short and clear.

Don’t change the wording from one person to the next - after all, you want the answers to fit together, but they will not fit if you keep changing your question.
One other thing to consider...
If a question is open-ended, it is phrased in a way that invites more than just a "Yes" or "No" answer. Questions that start with "What", "Why", "How" (etc) encourage people to give detailed answers.

Find a partner and label yourselves 'A' and 'B'. You must interview your partner to get a description of their house.

Partner 'A': You can only ask 'closed' questions that prompt a yes or no answer.
Partner 'B': You can ask open questions that enable a detailed response.

Give it a few minutes and see how you get on.

To demonstrate...
You must make sure your questions don't invite someone to answer in a certain way. Do this by asking 'Neutral' questions.

Ever heard somebody say "They should bring back National Service"? National Service is a compulsory stint in the Army for teenagers. Imagine you are doing vox pop interviews to see whether or not people agree with this idea.

Ask people "Do you think young people should have the opportunity for discipline and training in National Service?", and the answer is likely to be "yes"

Ask the same people: "Should young people be forced into National Service?" and the answer is likely to be "no"

The questions are phrased in a way that encourages a certain type of answer. The first question uses the words "have the opportunity", suggesting National Service is something that young people want. The second question uses the word "forced" , suggesting young people don't want National Service.

Neutral Questions are phrased in a way that don't suggest the interview subject answer in a certain way.

In this case, a neutral question simply would be:

What do you think about the idea of National Service for young people?
The people you are interviewing may be unfamiliar with the subject you are talking to them about.

It is a good idea to have a pre-prepared explanation (like a 100 word NIB) you can read out to them.

Here's what the BBC say about carrying out vox pops.


Carrying out vox pop interviews

Smile: It will make you more approachable. If you act positively, people are more likely to be willing to answer your questions.

Accept rejection: Some people won't want to speak to you but it doesn't matter. This is the nature of vox pop interviews.

Listen: You may come across information that you weren't previously aware of. You might want to investigate it further.

Ask Open-Ended questions: Invite more detailed answers by starting your questions with "What", "Why", "How", etc.

Speak to a variety of people: You will get a more diverse range of views

Carrying out your vox pop
Vox pop interview four strangers using the questions (and introduction) you created for the first assignment. Remember: get the full name and age of each person you speak to.

Make recordings of every interview you do. This will be saved to your student profile.

When you have downloaded the recordings, transcribe the interviews (type them up word for word). This will count as part of your Task 1 research.

Lesson objectives:
In this lesson, you have:

Planned a vox-pop interview
Carried out a vox-pop interview

What happens when questions aren't neutral
Neutral questions

Evaluating how your interviews went will highlight your strengths and weaknesses. This exercise will be useful for the next time you have to go and interview people for a story. Provide a written evaluation and include it in your Task 1 - Research work.

Consider the following:

Were you satisfied with the answers you got?

Did you stick to your approach (your plan)?

When you asked questions, were you easy to understand?

Did your body language (including eye contact) make your interviewees want to talk? How did you go about this?

Conduct and professionalism - did you know what you were taking about? Did you act professionally?

Did you come across any particular difficulties?

What will you do differently next time?

EXTENSION TASK - Evaluating your interview
Full transcript