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Polly bed poll shows how some play the internet game

Nov 10th, 2011 | By | Category: Featured Article, Front Page Layout, News

 By Callum Valentine, Sarah Dunn, Christina Hyde and Josh Hyde

POLL ‘WINNERS’: Kaye (left) and Ardern.

NEWSWIRE’S spoof poll has the media foaming at the mouth – so it’s time to spring the trap.

In an attempt to demonstrate the fatuous nature of polls during election season, NewsWire launched a poll yesterday asking users which politician they would like to go to bed with.

All politicians contacted for comment today denied  voting for themselves repeatedly, but logs show they or staff/friends/supporters appear to have voted in bulk. The majority of “votes” are in blocks sourced from single web addresses.

We can also reveal that more than 10% (105) of the more than 1000 responses were from official  government IP addresses, mostly voting multiple times.

The Central Auckland electorate attracted most votes, with its two women MPs vying for top place.

Even with duplicate bulk votes removed, Labour’s Jacinda Arden towered above the rest of the pack, scoring 87 “genuine” votes (from a total of  270, which was 26% of the overall number).

National rival Nikki Kaye was second with 54 “genuine” votes (from 243 – 22%).

NewsWire approached the offices of both for comment, but so far without success.

Another high ranker, National Cabinet Minister Paula Bennett, had the highest number of repeat votes in our tongue-in-cheek poll, with one Orcon user voting for her 98 times in a row.

“Ninety-eight times?  That’s fantastic! What’s his number?” Ms Bennett laughed when approached for comment about the mystery voter, who spent 15 minutes from 5.13pm until 5.28pm expressing his/her “support”.

The voting option, “All of the above”, got third.

Prime Minister John Key scored 37 votes overall, with 11 unique (about 30% not from single bulk voting).

His spokesman, Kevin Taylor, said they were focused on the campaign and “talking about the issues that matter to New Zealanders”.

Labour leader Phil Goff got 11 votes overall, five of them appearing to be “real” (two came from Parliament, one in the evening and one this morning).

One of his press secretaries, Francesca Mold, when asked for comment said: “Sorry, but we will leave the poll results to speak for themselves.”

Green MP Gareth Hughes (7/87): “It’s flattering, but I’m just focused on the issues at this stage. I’m in this game so there’s a better world for my children.”

Denying he did the multiple voting for himself (only one came from a Parliamentary address), he says possibly [it might have been] “an internet geek, given that I’ve been quite active in promoting a fair and open internet”.

National list MP Melissa Lee (13/69) said she knew nothing about the poll until her assistant called her about it this morning.

“I guess I don’t know whether I should actually feel happy or sad about that. I suppose it’s better than being called ugly?”

NewsWire deliberately left off the cookie that prevents multiple voting to see what would happen.

(During last year’s local government election lead-up, a genuine poll asking people which city council candidate they would vote for had the cookie accidentally left off – and about 6000 votes came in from mostly the candidates themselves).

The site had nearly 4000 hits between Wednesday morning and lunchtime today, with 679 first time visits.

That exceeded our coverage of the last election day in 2008, the February Christchurch earthquake and last month’s All Black parade.

Journos cogitate on merits (or otherwise) of poll

By Te Mansford

MEDIA outlets and journalists throughout New Zealand have had a field day criticising and indulging over NewsWire’s poll asking “Which politician would you go to bed with?”

The Herald, Radiolive and discussion on both Newstalk ZB and Facebook has seen the poll – which drew more than 1300 votes in the 26 hours it was open – taken apart with debate.

Political activist, blogger, and pollster David Farrar began the debate yesterday on facebook saying: “Hmmn, should a journalism school be running a poll on which MP you would like to ….?”.

“The first is there is a difference between a poll asking someone to rate hotness, and explicitly asking ‘Which politician would you go to bed with’. A fine line maybe, but one that got crossed,” Farrar said on his Kiwiblog post this morning.

Deborah Coddington, a Herald on Sunday columnist and former ACT politician, posted a comment on Farrar’s Facebook post asking what New Zealand is coming to.

“What is this country coming to? The people we vote for are nothing more than something to consider mating with”.

“I just think this poll objectifies politicians – male and female – as sex objects. I find it really, really offensive and insulting. Maybe I’ve lost my sense of humour? I don’t think so”.

Some people have not taken the issue to heart and can see the lighter side.

A caller on Newstalk ZB this morning told Sean Plunket if he could get past the teeth he’d pick Jacinda Ardern, but that Phil Goff would be his next choice because he was capable of multiple positions.

“The possibility of sharing my genes with a politician fills me with horror,” Andy Scarse said on Farrar’s Facebook post.

Martin Gibson commented: “As the Americans say; politics is just show business for ugly people. This should make it tougher for the fat controllers to do their usual trick and divert any higher thought to our genital area, but they are always going to give it a go, bless em!”

The head of Whitireia Journalism, Jim Tucker, appearing on RadioLive this morning, conceded the poll was tongue-in-cheek, saying it was one of the only approaches to the election polling that had not been done.

“The usual discussions were – will you vote, who are you going to vote for and so on. But the class decided to do something different, and see what people would actually vote about.”

Mediawatch commented on Twitter “Sex poll brings out ugly truth of politics: Nikki Kaye and Jacinda Ardern are leading a “sexiest political poll”.

Some 1307 votes were cast on the poll when the experiment was closed at midday today.

Journo class split on poll idea

Not all members of the Whitireia journalism class liked the idea of the poll that NewsWire ran.

Here are some views of those who favoured the idea and those who didn’t:


Today our journalism tutor Jim Tucker started the class with: “Well, we’re famous, maybe for all the wrong reasons” – kicking off an argument that lasted all morning.

He’d just been interviewed by RadioLive’s Marcus Lush over a poll he’d posted to Whitireia’s news website, NewsWire, asking readers “Which politician would you like to go to bed with?”

The poll went viral after conservative blogger David Farrar tweeted the link and posted it to his Facebook page, and soon the comments were flooding in.

Journalist and former ACT MP Deborah Coddington was particularly furious. “I find that so bloody offensive.  Is this what this country has come to? The people we vote for are nothing more than something to consider mating with?”

By this morning the sex poll story has only gotten bigger (ha ha) with coverage from RadioLive, Newstalk ZB and the New Zealand Herald.

Jim insisted that the poll was meant to show the superficial nature of political reporting, to get NewsWire some attention and to “have a bit of fun”. Half the class thought the whole thing was hilarious and couldn’t see why anyone was complaining.

Honestly, I can see the point of the exercise.  In the age of Sarah Palin, it pays to be aware that some politicians will try to cash in on sex appeal to get votes; and journalists will cover these stories because they’re entertaining and get a lot of page hits.

And really, who doesn’t get a kick out of annoying Deborah Coddington?

Here’s the problem. Coddington is right.

It is exasperating that people are so quick to focus on politicians’ looks rather than the issues they stand for – especially for female MPs like Nikki Kaye and Jacinda Ardern, who put up with this kind of nonsense every day.

Should journalism students really be taught that inanity and casual sexism are “just the way it is” in the media and we may as well play along?

In response to the poll, Green Party staffer Sean Gillespie said: “These type of stories might be popular with some media now, but it’s sad to see journalism schools also being plagued by cheap infotainment-style journalism.”

I tend to agree. My starry-eyed dreams of changing the world will die a brutal death soon enough, but I’d at least like to work in a real newsroom before that happens.

Perhaps I’d be in a more jokey mood if we hadn’t done this right in the middle of our unit on “Reporting Diversity”, in which we learn about the importance of covering minority groups with respect and sensitivity.

Among the materials we’re studying is a diversity checklist from Associate Dean Arlene Morgan from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. Here’s one of the questions journalists are urged to ask themselves:

“Does this story reach a depth of understanding about all of the nuances, characters and perspectives that the topic is covering? Does it really get into a deep core problem?”

In this case, I’d have to vote no.


So surprisingly, sex has caused a stir, this time because it has been related to something serious, politics.

Or perhaps sex has caused such outrage because sex is sex, and it should not be discussed.

Yesterday the Whitireia Journalism School’s website first featured a poll that asked which politician(s) people would like to go to bed with as a kind of summer break from usual electoral coverage.

The poll and the results have been picked up by the news outlets that could be our future.

What also drives the future is reproduction. For politics to survive it makes sense to include looks and sex.

People look for a certain degree of sexy in a potential mate to reproduce, so it makes sense that they look for the same in politicians who, in our proportional electoral system, need to reproduce their party members.

While some may accuse us of dumbing down politics at a time when we should be providing  electoral education not sex education, it should be pointed out that this will not be the only electoral piece Whitireia journalism students will provide.

What the poll has done is direct people to our website where the more serious among them can find serious stories to keep them quiet.

Who’s offended here? The politicians aren’t offended.

Some are offended that the standard of journalism is going down: is it not news that politicians, potential leaders of the country, are voting for themselves on polls?

What these politicians have shown is that the golden rule of democracy – this being that everyone is equal and deserves one vote each – has been flouted by those who supposedly stand for this rule.

As was discovered this morning, the same anonymous people were voting multiple times for certain politicians, and while it may not have been the politicians themselves voting, many of the votes were sent from Parliament addresses.

These people in Parliament have shown just how boring life in parliament is. Perhaps they saw it as a relief from the usual campaign outlets of old people’s homes and schools – holding cells.

If talking about sex and politics and objectifying politicians as “sex objects” is “tacky”, as Deborah Coddington has put it on Facebook, then what do we have to live for if we are expected to ask generic and repeated questions in order to generate news?


National is not only New Zealand’s party of choice – it also has one of the nation’s most desirable politicians.

The controversial poll on student website has seen Nikki Kaye , MP for Auckland Central, just pipped by Auckland Labour rival Jacinda Ardern.

The poll has sparked outrage, feeding the insatiable appetite of a posse of starved vultures posing as journalists keen to gnaw at the meaty gossip of what should be a dead animal.

It seems the prey now is defenceless students,  trainee journalists who won’t end up working on high class papers with these other worldly writers, but destined to descend to the depths of tabloid sensationalism, all because of an ill-advised poll.

Well guys, looks like we have a load of catching up to do if we are ever going to get to the level of addicted Facebook trolls, moaning because they don’t have enough Viagra to keep them excited during pre-recorded re-runs of John Campbell Live.

KiwiBlog blogger David Farrar posted the link on his facebook page:”Hmmn, should a journalism school be running a poll on which MP you would like to f…?” he says.

Well, the poll didn’t exactly say “f…”; the term “go to bed with” could mean any number of things and for Farrar to assume filth says a lot about him.

As for Deborah “Asian angst” Coddington: “I’m not prissy at all, but if this is what taxpayers fork out for, god help us. Not funny,” I’m sure you would have done well in the poll, and yes, Deborah, you are “prissy”.

This is why I hate some journalists. Once upon a time the saying was that someone was so mad they could have an argument in an empty room – now, judging by that lot, it’s common-place.

Weasels hiding behind a profile photo of when they were 10 years younger with nothing better to do than voice an already overheard opinion.


Sirens blazing and lights flashing – one could be forgiven for thinking the police were raiding the Whitireia newsroom.

The reality is, however, it’s just a bunch of dried prunes with home-made political correctness badges pasted proudly in the middle of their foreheads creating the commotion.

Before I share my thoughts on the matter at hand, it is only fair to give you, the reader, some background.

The NewsWire team at Whitireia recently created a poll, asking voters to cast their stone as to who is the “sexiest” politician.

In my mind, this was just a harmless question, aimed at having a bit of fun while the regurgitated and repeated polls such as “who are you going to vote for” are left on the merry-go-round that is mainstream media.

We all (I would like to think) know that sexy is not generally a word bandied about with politicians.  The poll in itself is meant to be satirical – clearly lost on a number of people high on the fumes of resentment.

Resentment, caused by the hard hitting journalistic truth – sex is a topic that dwells in the minds of the majority.

Alas, the poll could not be left at a bit of fun.  People have found themselves offended, embarrassed, upset and generally overwhelmed at the attention caused by one serving of a political poll with a side of sexy.

There seems to be a consensus between some members of the class, that this poll is causing more problems than Frodo faced carrying the ring to Mordor.

John Lennon once said that “life is what happens when you’re busy making plans”.  To those who are outraged I say life is what happens when you’re busy worrying about polls.



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  1. This is awesome guys.

    It seems that the media can fixate on Dan Carter’s groin [injury] and Sonny Bill Williams exposing his body yet people get up in arms when politicians are sexualised.

    It was obviously a light-hearted poll and I am surprised it was taken so seriously, I personally think when John Key talked about thinking Liz Hurley was ‘hot’ and the thought of him bumping uglies with anyone is far more offensive to my mind.

    Perhaps also people should look at this link:

    From when Stuff did a video poll on the street asking which leader was hotter…Or this one:
    where they say:

    “So, given it is an election year, we decided to take to the streets to ask you, the people, who is hotter. Does John hold the key to your heart? Or is Goff the red you want in your bed?”

  2. What a great article! I am one who did not vote, as I believe I recognised the ‘tongue in cheek’ nature of the poll (and, if truth be known, because there was not a “none of these” option, which may have topped the poll had it been offered as a choice). I think your summary of the poll and the subsequent coverage, together with the four ‘reaction from students’ pieces create a total package that’s well worth reading as it’s entertaining, informative and above all, interesting. Well done! This is one taxpayer who is very satisfied to think my contribution may be helping to support this course.

  3. And NewsWire strikes again! What a cool idea and great articles. Congrats to the students, obviously you hit a nerve there, the stats speak for themselves.

  4. Ka pai NewsWire students!

  5. Nicely played!

  6. Good stuff, guys.

    There was a brief mention about this on TV3’s political show The Nation on the weekend. Glad to see NewsWire is making a splash in the mainstream media.

    Keep up the good work.

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