Opinion balance in vox pop television news
Faculty of Social Sciences. Communication Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences. Political Sciences
Journalism studies. - Basingstoke
, p. 1-13
University of Antwerp
Opinions expressed by the common (wo)man on the street influence audience judgments about perceived public opinion and even peoples own opinion. While we know from experimental research that the distribution of opinions expressed in vox pop interviewsthe balance between pro and contra quotes, for exampleinfluences audiences, little research has actually looked at the distribution of opinions expressed in vox pops in the real world. Are the vox pops shown in news items balanced or not? We address this research gap by analyzing the opinion balance of vox pop statements with a specific focus on political news. We conducted an in-depth content analysis on a random sample of 2000 vox pop interviews in Belgian (Flanders) main evening television news drawn from a total population of vox pop interviews in the period 20032013. Results show that in half of the news items in which they are used, vox pops present opinions and that vox pops play an important role in political news. We find that, contrary to our expectations, the opinions expressed in vox pops are unbalanced both in non-political and political news. A large majority of vox pop news items contains vox pop voices that present only one point of view.