Blogger Arrests Around the World
Today's required reading: why media gets community wrong

On the streets of Skien

It was raining cats and dogs, not exactly the kind of weather you'd want to be out and about in, but just as I walked into the centre of Skien yesterday, a place I'd never been to before, I was approached by a weary looking guy with a worn leather jacket and an impressive camera:

"Excuse me, could I possibly bother you for just a few minutes. I'm a journalist from the local newspaper and was wondering if you could possibly answer a quick question for this vox pop about today's events," he said, and whizzed out a notepad from his pocket.

Me: "Events?" (thinking hard now, been buried in my deadlines before I jumped on the train in the last minute to get her, events?)

Local journalist: "Well, the minister's resignation, you know"

Me: "Aha!" (yes, I heard something about that, Åslaug Haga finally being forced to step down, on the radio at some point). "Okay, now I'm with you, but we have to strike a deal: you have to tell me where the venue I'm heading for is, and where I can grab some lunch on the way, and I'll try to say something sensible for your vox pop. If you really want to interview a fellow journalist, that is."

Local journalist: "Okay, where are you heading?"

Me: "For a conference at the Ibsen Centre"

Local journalist: "Oh, I thought you were heading for a funeral, all dressed in black as you are. What's the conference on?"

Me:"Open Source Software, it's the biggest conference of its kind in Europe I'm told." (black is actually very handy: suited both for the conference and the prize cermony in the evening, not expecting to find time to change for the latter) 

Local journalist: "Open what?"

Me: "Open Source Software, like Drupal"

Local journalist: "Brutal?"

Me: "Drupal. It's an online publishing platform, but I guess it is a bit techie: for the specially interested."

Local journalist: "Oh, now how about Haga. Do you think this story has been exaggerated and is out of proportion with what she did, or is it justified?"

A few words about practising what you preach rolled off my tounge. I said it wouldn't be such a big story if the Government she was a part of hadn't championed the regulations she violated (how very unoriginal, but my mind was on something else entirely), and I got my directions both to the venue I was heading for and a decent lunch place on the way. Value for value, I say...  



I love vox pops. I used to hate doing them when I was a street reporter but they are a random joy. It is a case of the desperate in search of the ignorant and yet gems regularly emerge.
Funny that you should mention vox pops by regular media because at the conference on new media that I was at today in London it was the random way that the public is allowed to speak through New Media that came under attack...
Plus ca change...

I love vox pops too. As an editor I encourage reporters to ask ordinary people what they think about current issues.

They're also a great resource for getting photos of people on file.

Michael: pictures on file, eh? I knew there was a deeper reason for that random encounter...

Charlie: random way that the public is 'allowed' to speak through New Media - as if anything that's not edited is without value? Unfortunately we're having those debates in my part of the world too. Several times a year...

Funny, I don't think I've ever done a vox pop myself as I've either been columnisting, editing, working as a beat reporter or freelancer - must be a flaw in my media training. But 'my reporters' at Uni did them, and that was great fun.

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