Man-In-The-Street Interviews

This is one feature of news reporting that I do not appreciate at all. If it’s snowing I don’t need to see or hear Joe Blow announce his recent purchase of a shovel and some salt. If a politician is involved in a scandal, I don’t need to see reaction from all sorts of randomly selected morons. But maybe its just me. Do people out there really go for this sort of thing? It’s hard to believe it has no appeal to anyone, or the practice would not be so widespread.

Does anyone go for this feature? What is it’s appeal?

I enjoy it, depending on the topic. I enjoy nothing more than seeing people confirm my long-held theory that 90% of the population are clueless idiots. Its really sad, in a way, when the interviewer asks a question, and it is embarassingly obvious that the person interviewed hasn’t a clue what he’s talking about. Yet these people invariably blither on, oblivious to their own ignorance.

We are going through a rather intense period of these interviews here, being as we are in the middle of a provincial election. The only thing that frightens me is that these incredibly uninformed, yet opinioned, people will decide who our government is. Like I said, though, the good of the interviews outweighs the bad, at least for entertainment value if nothing else.

I’m mostly with Izzy on this one. Overall they strike me as pointless filler, not too far removed from the old Letterman “cruisin’ around talking to regular folks” schtick. Let’s face it, most people don’t have the experience or presence of mind to shine when someone shoves a microphone into their face. What usually comes out is understandably nervous, stilted rambling.

A VERY few times I’ve heard almost Terkelian, pungent comments. But most times it’s a shameless, embarrassing exercise in “folksy” news. YOU can be a pundit! Feh.


It’s a little off the subject, but not really. I was watching the man-in-the street interviews yesterday about the snow storm up North. They talked to some little kids, then panned to the street for the rest of the “winter wonderland” news. The camera was showing a street, and the traffic light was in full view. The light turns red, and a car runs right through it, while everyone else stops. Did anyone say anything? NO. And the light hadn’t just turned. It was red, red, red.

Just thought that was interesting.

I agree with Izzy (and if you ‘quote’ me in GD there will be heck to pay!)

Here in mid MI, my SO and I joke about the news - you could have a war breaking out in Uganda, and they’ll run a story “here with a reaction, is a DeWitt couple” (DeWitt being a very small town north of us), and some guy will have a microphone shoved in his face and say something pithy like “I jus’ think it’s terrribull. Folks shouldn’t aught a do thaings like that”.

I’m with IzzyR on this one; with one exception.

On a local New York station, there is a talk-show host named Sean Hannity. Every afternoon during election season, he would send one of his producers down to the street to do a MOTS interview. He would ask people very simple questions (Who’s the president? Who’s the VP? Who’s running for President? For VP? Who’s running for the Senate [2000 was a senatorial election year in New York]? The vast majority of the people they interviewed could not answer these questions. Just hearing some of the answers they came up with was both humorous and sad.

Zev Steinhardt

I thought we were going to talk about the man-in-the-street interviews on the old Steve Allen Show! :frowning:

I’m with you IzzyR, I hate 'em.

I think they do it to try to engage the viewers emotions, and to make their particular news team seem more in touch with the public. Not like those guys at that other station.

[hijack] I also really hate the obligitory interview with the sobbing parent/spouse/whomever of the victim du jour. Leave the poor person alone, dammit! [/hijack]

“The vast majority of the people they interviewed could not answer these [simple] questions.”

[showing my pet peeve]
The vast majority of the people asked, or the vast majority of the people whose answers the producers considered should survive the editing process from a half-hour of interviews to two or three minutes of airtime because they were stupid and/or funny?
[/showing my pet peeve]

I have no problem with MITS interviews when they are done by Rick Mercer of “This Hour has 22 Minutes”. He calls them “Talking With Americans” :smiley:
Talk about people spouting opinions about things they really, truly haven’t the faintest clue about!

There was no editing. It was done live on the air with Sean Hannity. One of the producers would take a cell phone down to the street and Sean would speak to the person. Sometimes the person knew the answers, but the vast majority of times not.

Zev Steinhardt

As one who agrees with Elkman’s 90% theory, I am amused by how these interviews are often accompanied by waving and/or smiling teenagers who will jump into the background just to appear on camera. Not to mention the fact that the interviewees are often missing teeth or have curler-clad hair (females).

This really happened - I saw it on a Ft Smith Arkansas tv station always desperate for the “local angle” -
after some mideast Israeli/Palestinian crisis, they interviewed a some hometown guy, and the on the slug running under the film he was indentified as “Local Jew.”

Well, some of the news reporters aren’t very much more interesting (or intelligent) than the MOTS. I was watching the WB11 news during the great blizzard we didn’t have Tuesday, and they started a story about problems at JFK and LaGuardia airports due to the snow. It started off with: “Airplanes: If they’re not in the air, they’re probably on the ground”. I’m not even kidding, I wish I had it on tape. The thing that kills me is the word “probably”.

Actually, the more I watch televised news, the more I think it sucks. I just read the newspaper instead to stay up on current events. It’s better since I can read the stories I want to know about, and don’t have to listen to 15 minutes of reports about snow. Yeah, I see that it’s snowing, I know roads get bad in the snow, I know there’s some guy using a snowblower somewhere while his neighbor shovels.

Whoa, sorry bout the semi-hijack.

Can’t stand ‘em.

If I want to know what the man in the street thinks, I’ll go find a TV show called “what the man in the street thinks”. If I’m watching the news, it’s because I want to know what’s happening.
[gets on high horse]
They still beat politicians being interviewed on the news, though. The sheer arrogance of someone who comes on TV and trots out their self-congratulatory agenda, or slags off the other guy rather than answering the questions has me reaching for the off switch in milliseconds.