The man on the street is a popular interviewee for news correspondents trying to hide that fact they haven’t been able to find out much about what’s going on. The assumption that the bloke walking towards you laden with heavy shopping has first-hand knowledge of the latest covert poisoning of a local spook, or what the Prime Minister should do to tackle knife crime, is just plain silly. This is the latest advice from campaign group What the FT, who aim to persuade news agencies and reporters to get a grip and present us with actual facts.
We went to the Bentall Centre in Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, with a tape recorder and some questions written on a bit of paper to find out what locals think about this thorny issue. Jim, 81, told us to sod off because he was in a hurry to get to Betfred in time for the 3.30 at Aintree. Colin, from Morden, didn’t seem to understand the simple question “Can members of the public provide rapier-sharp insight to a breaking news story?” He just stared at us and mumbled something about how we should have put a stop to immigration years ago. Shirley, 54, was lovely, but a bit deaf and thought we were asking for directions to Thames Ditton.
It seems that Joe Public cannot be relied on as a witness to topical events, or to know the quickest route to Thames Ditton.