What is VOX-POP?

In broadcasting, vox populi (/ˈvɒks ˈpɒpjuːli/, /-laɪ/ voks pop-ew-lee, -lye) is an interview with members of the public. Vox populi is a Latin phrase that literally means “voice of the people”.

Man on the street– A vox pop interview

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 MOTS.

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.