Vox pops are a rite of passage for all wannabe hacks.
We know the drill: ask the participants their name, age, where they live, and what they do. Fine. This week however, when I was reading the Islington Gazette, something jarred withe me.
One of the eight panel-members' description read like this:'Philip Davis, 54, disabled, of Tollington Park, said: "I've got no kids and I used to go to public school but I imagine [wearing school uniform] is of paramount importance."
Sorry? Is being disabled an occupation? Let me just point out that nowhere did I read: ‘Joe Bloggs, 29, an able-bodied accountant, said…’
I can imagine how the conversation between the journalist and Mr Davis might have gone - what do you do, oh, well, I’m not working at the moment, I’m on disability allowance, or whatever - but surely it is a combination of lazy journalism and politically correct anxiety not to probe a bit further, without being offensive or intrusive - ‘what would be the best thing for me to put as your occupation?’, ‘what were you doing before you were on benefits?’ etc. It’s not as if disabled people can’t work and contribute to society. The journalist is perpetuating the social attitude that while an able-bodied person can have many facets to his personality, a disabled person’s identity does not extend beyond his physical incapacity.