Doper Journalists: Why the man on the street?

I was in St. Louis for business when Rumsfeld resigned as Defense Secretary. Having been out boozing with colleagues the night before and hungover that morning, I was unaware of the whole situation. So I was shocked when I walked out of my hotel and was ambushed by some reporter asking me for my opinion. I mumbled something and walked away mainly because I hadn’t heard about it and frankly didn’t want to be bothered.

I am not an avid watcher of the local news but I might catch it if I am hanging out at the bar after work. Invariably some major issue comes up and the reporters seem compelled to ask the person on the street about it. The answers are usually only slightly more intelligible than mine and often not intelligible at all.

“What do you think of the plan to eliminate the Board of Revision of Taxes in Philadelphia?”

“Uh, I think taxes should be lower.”

“And there you have it, Philadelphians think this is a good idea for the city.”

So my question is why do you bother with this? What has that answer added to your news report? Is there some odd subset of individuals that looks at the opinion of the person on the street and says “Wow, I am glad they asked Paulie down at the Fishtown mini-mart his opinion because I never thought about whether taxes should be lower or not.”

“You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.”:smiley:

What do you think about the situation between Freedonia and Sylvania?

I’ll take five and ten in Woolworth.

I think they’re looking for Area Man.

“We now take you to some idiot on the street, who is going to say something completely obvious that adds nothing to this story.”

This stupidity drives me up the wall; I have a hard time watching the local news because of it. If they would just report the stories and knock this silliness off, they could fit a lot more news into their 22 minutes.

Just last night, they’re doing a story on a local interstate that was closed overnight due to ice. The random idiot on the street part comes along, and this guy says “I have a four-wheel drive, so I’m gonna try to get through. If they don’t let me through, then I’m gonna go back.” Gee, thanks so much for that informative bit. :rolleyes:

Another thing I don’t get is the “we go now to our reporter Joe Blow who is live on the scene” that they do all the time. I understand if it’s a big story, but is it really necessary to send a reporter out to some location for every little thing? What, for instance, does it accomplish (besides wasting time and resources) to send a reporter out at 11:00 PM to stand in front of a deserted bank that was robbed that morning?

And then, of course, there’s the “teasers” when they’re about to go to break. A good one from last week: “When we come back: Amanda Knox is found guilty! See what’s next for the former UoW student.” Let me think about that for a minute… I know! I know! She’s going to Disneyland! What? No?

I wish The Daily Show was on seven days a week…

ETA: I realize the “idiot on the street” segment is actually the idiots behind the scenes editing the comments of what could very well be an intelligent person saying something meaningful, and taking it out of context.

What I hate is when it is hot in the summer, DC’s Fox Five interviews people on the street who work outside like mailmen to ask them what they think of the heat.

We are currently suffering through a transit strike in my city. A transit strike that leaves 50,000+ students, (all forced to buy bus passes with their student fees!), high and dry while the weather is foul and their exams have begun.

My evening news, so far, has shown a guy walking to work and saying, “Hey, at least it’s not snowing!” (That was last week, big change in the weather since then!)

I fully expect tomorrow to see some guy saying, “Hey, at least traffic’s not as congested!”

I hate local tv sometimes!

The local news stations have taken this idea further (but continuing in the wrong direction) in the last few years – the newscasters are now reading comments from readers who anonymously post comments on the stations’ Web sites about a particular story. If you’ve read readers’ comments on your local television stations’ or newspapers’ Web sites, you’re aware of the quality of those insights.

I guess I can see how stations think there’s value to that – lending a really local flavor to the news – but the comments really lend nothing of value to the story.

I hope this isn’t a hijack, but the thread seems to have moved into the “Stupid Things News Organizations Do” territory. If the thread is moving that direction, then I think this anecdote is appropriate. If the thread is adhering to the original title, then I apologize in advance for the hijack.

The other night, there was a fire in a particular part of town. The reporter dispatched to the scene was delayed by the other big news story that night, the winter weather. Because the reporter was not yet on the scene, the studio decided to show a Google Map of the location. They have done this in the past, and we see a pin and the closest cross-streets. That’s fine.

What they did next was mind-boggling.

They switched to Street View, but then they didn’t shift the camera to point to the house. They just left the view pointing down the street. This really didn’t give me any useful information, except that the house was located next to a street.

Plus, they didn’t even show the cross-streets, so we had no context. And, the fire was late on a cold, wintry night, while the Street View was taken during the day in summer.

Journalism at its finest.