Ever since I saw this post on Jump For Journalism, I have been intrigued-as well as worried-about Vox Pops. (For you ‘non-Journo’ folks, this means taking a sample of people-the more varied the better, in order to be representative-and asking one particular question to get a range of answers on a single issue.
Imagine my dread at the assignment!
My issue? Southern Rail. Living in the ‘heartland’ of strikes, bus replacements.. that’s me. And yet another strike had been announced when this assignment was set. I had struck gold.
Dress for the weather:
If it’s cold when you’re Vox popping, wrap up warm whilst retaining a veneer of professionalism. Do not do what I did-dress to “show a little bit of leg”, assuming that more males would like to talk to you. *Sighs at my own stupidity.* It won’t work. At all.
Headed to my town centre, it was cold. Freezing. The forecast later that an ice wind was going over the UK.
There’s a feeling in my stomach as I stand among the hustle and bustle of the town centre; it’s indescribable. It could be dread, realising that I still cannot ‘read’ people-their thoughts, feelings, emotions, body language.
When engaging the first candidate, she seems fixated on one of my fingers; whilst I waited, deciding who to talk to, I had dug into it, making a cut. I had not noticed the blood on my finger. Whoops.
I take an age between people; the feeling in my stomach slowly begins to change. I feel sick, the hot and swirly feeling making my legs wobble. The voice in my head does not help: “Come ON, you have got NOTHING to loose!” Ugghhh.
I feel more than a tad cross when a relative rings me, to ‘check in’; they know that I’m out on an assignment. It throws me off balance.
Time to give up:
Reconvening to Waterstones-one of my favourite places-I’m questioning myself: “Why do you wish to be a journalist?”, “do you really think that you can be in this industry?” How To Murder Your life (a book taking my fancy) slowly wipes away the sniffing-near-on-crying mood.
Emailing the lecturer:
I email my lecturer for a chat-explaining my diagnosis, and the issues I’ve had. I also text a classmate, someone who use to work in sales, asking for tips. He is such a lovely bloke, with a great sense of humour-and more charisma than most people that I have met.
My lecturer ‘gets it’ at once-and freely admits that she does not understand how it feels not to be able to read people. She is glad that I tried-and wishes not to push me to a place that feels horrible. She suggests to try again if I like-maybe pair up with someone-but reminds me that not every journalist uses this device.
The class reconvenes-and there are some bloody brilliant bylines! Tips and feedback nominate the conversation for a little while-such as planning what time you go to ask questions, what sort of person you should ask, and maybe printing up a piece of paper with the question.
Quite the learning curve; and if you need more advice, check out this from the BBC.