Petition against media misuse of vox pop during the General Election Campaign

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We, the undersigned, are concerned that vox pop is being used as a tool to influence opinion in a way that does not breach Ofcom rules about partiality. Reporters are human beings with their own political beliefs, and this may influence, even subconsciously, the way they ask questions. The editors are also human beings with political beliefs and this may influence who they choose to edit out of a vox pop segment. And ultimately it should not be used as it is highly unscientific. On any given day, it is impossible to know whether the people being approached represent a cross section of the public. 

When people are undecided or relatively ill informed politically, listening to numerous members of the public sharing strong views against one particular politician, could be hugely influential. Yet there is no way of knowing whether there were other views expressed which were not shown. For instance, we have heard reports from people who were stopped in the street and asked about one particular politician, gave a positive viewpoint, and not only was their point of view not broadcast, the only ones broadcast were negative toward this politician. Reports like this add to a growing sense of mistrust in the mainstream media, which can only be resolved if they show a range of balanced views or do not vox pop at all. On the subject of influence, we would refer you to a psychological conformity experiment conducted by Solomon Asch in the 1950s. This evidenced a very strong human propensity to wish to conform. This propensity means not only is it highly likely that heavily one sided vox pop interviews will influence viewers politically, we also cannot be sure that those interviewed are sharing their true feelings. Aware of the fact their views will be broadcast, they may wish to conform to what they perceive to be the accepted majority view at that time.

Therefore we call on all media broadcasters to cease with vox pops, at least for the duration of the General Election campaign. They serve absolutely no purpose other than to influence viewers and cause mistrust.

 

 



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