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Vox pop, the man on the street
American television personality Steve Allen as the host of The Tonight Show further developed the "man on the street" interviews and audience-participation comedy breaks that have become commonplace on late-night TV. Usually the interviewees are shown in public places, and supposed to be giving spontaneous opinions in a chance encounter – unrehearsed persons, not selected in any way. As such, broadcast journalists almost always refer to them as the abbreviated vox pop. In U.S. broadcast journalism it is often referred to as a man on the street interview or M.O.T.S.
Many U.S. broadcast journalists use the abbreviation M.O.S, not M.O.T.S, while "vox pop" tends to be used more outside the U.S.
Because the results of such an interview are unpredictable at best, usually vox pop material is edited down very tightly. This presents difficulties of balance, in that the selection used ought to be, from the point of view of journalistic standards, a fair cross-section of opinions.
Although the two can be quite often confused, a vox pop is not a form of a survey. Each person is asked the same question; the aim is to get a variety of answers and opinions on any given subject. Journalists are usually instructed to approach a wide range of people to get varied answers from different points of view. The interviewees should be of various ages, sexes, classes and communities so that the diverse views and reactions of the general people will be known.
Generally, the vox pop question will be asked of different persons in different parts of streets or public places. But as an exception, in any specific topic or situation which is not concerned to general people, the question can be asked only in a specific group to know what the perception/reaction is of that group to the specific topic or issue; e.g., a question can be asked to a group of students about the quality of their education.
With increasing public familiarity with the term, several radio and television programs have been named "vox pop" in allusion to this practice.
- Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, Vox populi, vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit.
- And those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness.
The usage indicates that the phrase had long since become an aphorism of common political wisdom by Alcuin and Charlemagne's time, since Alcuin advised Charlemagne to resist such an idea. Of those who promoted the phrase and the idea, Archbishop of Canterbury Walter Reynolds brought charges against King Edward II in 1327 in a sermon "Vox populi, vox Dei"
- "Vox Populi" is a paper by Sir Francis Galton, first published in the 7 March 1907 issue of Nature that mathematically demonstrates the "wisdom of crowds."
- "Vox Populi" is a book that was written by Timothy E. Gregory and published in 1979 that explores 5th century religious tension in the Middle East.
- "Vox Populi" is on the seal of the Alabama House of Representatives.
- "Vox Populi" is a song by rock band 30 Seconds to Mars.
- "Vox Populi" is the name of a resistance movement, led by Daisy Fitzroy, in the game BioShock Infinite.
- "Vox Populi" is mentioned in a speech by the character "V" in the film V for Vendetta.
- "Vox Populi" is the name of the 11th episode of the first season of the CBS television series Jericho.
- The quote 'Vox Populi, Vox Dei" is used by Sherlock Holmes in releasing Captain Crocker from his custody in the story The Adventure of the Abbey Grange
- The quote "Vox Populi, Vox Dei" is mentioned by Joey Lucas (played by Marlee Matlin) in a conversation with Josh Lyman (played by Bradley Whitford) in the 16th episode of the first season of The West Wing.
- The quote "Vox Populi, Vox Dei" is used by Ayn Rand in the 6th chapter of her 1943 novel, The Fountainhead, by Ellsworth M. Toohey in reference to the fall of Henry Cameron from the world of architecture.
- "Vox Populi" is the name of a song by Greek electronica band Stereo Nova.
- Vox pops were included in many episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus, often revealing extremist or especially dull positions of the interviewed persons.
- Merriam Webster; Random House
- Prato, Lou (April 1999). "Easy to Do, But Often Worthless". American Journalism Review. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
- Vox populi, vox Dei: Definition of vox populi, vox Dei, sacklunch.net
- The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Quotations,uie third edition, Oxford University Press, 1993.
- Alcuinus on Vox pops, Vox populi, Vox pop (oxfordreference.com) at the Wayback Machine (archived 4 May 2009)
- David Lagomarsino, Charles T. Wood The Trial of Charles I: A Documentary History 2000 "As far back as 1327, in pronouncing the deposition of Edward II, the Archbishop of Canterbury Walter Reynolds had taken as his justifying text the old Carolingian adage Vox populi, vox Dei, “The voice of the people is the voice of God."
- Philip Hamburger Law and Judicial Duty 2009 Page 74 "At the meeting of this high court early in 1327, Archbishop of Canterbury Walter Reynolds brought charges against the king, ... homage to the prince, and Archbishop Reynolds — the son of a baker — preached on the text Vox populi, vox Dei
- Francis Galton. "Vox Populi". 7 March 1907.
- Alabama State Legislature
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