In my line of work, there’s a phrase known as “man on the street” which is the kind of interview you get for a story in which you have no other interviews. Basically, it’s just asking a random person what they think about X issue going on. Slap three of those together. Boom. Story. It’s not pretty. It’s not even journalism. But it is TV. And sometimes, that’s the only bar that can be cleared.
There are some men and women on the street who are better TV than others. For example, this guy. Technically, he would be described as a “witness.” But he’s also a… wait for it… man on the street who just happens to be strangely enthusiastic about what he just saw.
Which brings me to Declan. He is now 20 months old. But I think he would already make a great “man on the street.” He is almost as enthusiastic as “reality hits you hard” bro. And he is also concise, which is crucial in TV news because we only have so much time to talk about one car accident before we have to move on to talk about the next car accident. Or fire. Or crime.
Anyhow, Declan’s interview would go something like this:
Reporter: Did you hear the new county budget includes $40 million to pay for the legal defense of a Sheriff whose deputies were found to have racially profiled people?
Declan: (silence, eyes shift to the side, slow grin forms) YEAH!
Reporter: And did you know that same Sheriff is accused of contempt of court for failing to comply with a federal judge’s orders to get his deputies to stop racially profiling?
Declan: (increasing excitement) YEAH!
Reporter: And would it surprise you to learn that, as all of this was unfolding, the judge’s wife was investigated? With the knowledge of the Sheriff?
Reporter: And not only that, but the Sheriff’s Office spent $500,000 to $1,000,000 (allegedly) in county funds to hire a confidential informant (who’d previously conned the Pentagon into buying fake, terrorist-exposing intelligence software) to investigate the possibility this whole thing was a conspiracy? The work of scheming local & federal officials?
Reporter: And how does that make you feel?
Declan: (brief confused look, then smiling) BLUE GREEN BROOOOOWN!.
Reporter: Those are just colors.
Reporter: Paint the Sheriff?
Reporter: Should we paint him pink like the underwear his inmates wear?
Declan: YEAAAAH! PINK!
That’s how it would go. No matter the subject, Declan is a pretty enthusiastic kid, willing (eventually) to go along with most anything if the person on the other end of the question is excited enough. I am already planning an entire segment around him. “Declan YEAHS the news.” We’ll just insert his affirmations in appropriate (and inappropriate) ways in every story. It won’t be journalism. But it will be good TV.