It hasn't been the most scintillating of election campaigns, but is it really necessary to rate the sex appeal of our politicians in an effort to enliven proceedings?

When David Farrar asked the question on Facebook, "Should a journalism school be asking the question of its students, 'what politician would they most like to fuck'," I thought he was kidding. But the link he provided backed up the poser.

Whitireia Journalism school in Wellington is running a poll on its online news sheet, www.newswire.co.nz, which asks, "Which politician would you go to bed with?"

Not all politicians are listed, but John Key and Phil Goff are there, along with Annette King, Nikki Kaye, Jacinda Ardern, Russel Norman, Metiria Turei, Melissa Lee, Don Brash, Paula Bennett, Hone Harawira, Peter Dunne - and lastly "all of the above". Oh, how hilarious.

I'm not a prude. I'm not prissy. I'm actually considered an easy laugh. But I'm appalled, and I'm not sure where to start. If this was kids in a treehut, with Dad's sneaked ciggies and whisky, I might understand it.

But this is a taxpayer-funded tertiary education institute. This Newswire is published by Jim Tucker, the same Jim Tucker who, some months back, booted David Cohen and me out of the Facebook-based Kiwi Journalists Association because of our slightly off, light-hearted banter about Tucker's judging of the Qantas Awards and the Press Council.

Tucker - without informing us - deregistered us from the site because we didn't meet the high standards of his membership. Fair enough. It's his site, he can do what he likes. But obviously prurient thoughts about sex with politicians is okay, in his taxpayer-funded time.

So is this what they teach aspiring political journalists in our state-run institutions? Rating the sex appeal - or not - of our Members of Parliament? It's tasteless, obnoxious, and demeaning.

It reduces the politicians to objects of something to mate with. These are human beings with husbands, wives, partners. They have children, mothers and fathers. Whatever we think of their policies, they give up a huge amount to stand for Parliament and we owe them respect for that. Respect does not mean running a poll encouraging people to look at them in terms of having sex with them.

I just think it's disgusting, and Tucker should be ashamed of himself. Does he run secret little polls about his students, asking which ones (or maybe all of them?) tutors would like to go to bed with?

No, because that's a definite no-no in this day and age. So why is it okay to humiliate politicians in such a public and cavalier way?

So in 20 years time, when you wonder why the standard of political reporting has degenerated to the level of a Playboy centrefold, just remember this poll and weep.

Comments (10)

by Ben Curran on November 10, 2011
Ben Curran

Disgusting isn't the first thought that comes to mind (it's probably number 2 though). My first reaction is to consider it an advanced case of chronic patheticism. My opinion of the 4th estate in New Zealand is, shall we say, quite low. Things like this does nothing to reassure one that our future journalists will be worthy anything more than disdain.

by Christopher Nimmo on November 10, 2011
Christopher Nimmo

I think there may be Maori seats in this poll - Tariana Turia is apparently on 2% from one vote, while Don Brash has 2% from 25.

by alexb on November 10, 2011
alexb

Sign of the times really. If the public doesn't take politics seriously why should journalists? Market forces demand that media outlets cater to the lowest common denominator in order to sell the most copy, and then we act surprised when something like this happens. To be honest, running a poll like this is actually very good training for those graduating to work in the current media environment, I'm sure Fairfax would love to hire graduates that can turn politics into a soap opera.

by Phil Stewart on November 10, 2011
Phil Stewart

Paul Henry started it.

by Pete Sime on November 10, 2011
Pete Sime

It cuts to the chase, though, doesn't it? When we talk about a politicians' charisma, demeanor, x-factor, looks et cetera, aren't we really looking at their sex appeal - at least on some reptillian hind-brain level?

Students of political history generally acknowledge Kennedy's use of makeup under studio lights as the turning factor in the 1960 presidential election. It's undeniable that Sarah Palin's looks have garnered her at least some support amongst her voting bloc. People can be very superficial creatures on occasion and our politics can be just as superficial.

And as for demeaning politics, can I cite Richard Worth, Shane Jones, David Garrett, Chris Carter, Darren Hughes and Pansy Wong? The 49th Parliament didn't exactly cover itself in glory. But then maybe it really is of the people.

by MikeM on November 10, 2011
MikeM

Can someone in the know perhaps fill me in on what journalism schools actually teach?

I heard someone commenting some time ago (probably on something like MediaWatch) that historically many journalists used to be pulled out of industries or the world, and then trained in journalism whilst already having some kind of in-depth background knowledge, whereas now many journalists tend to be primed through journalism schools.  I know someone who had a temp job in the Stuff newsroom a couple of years back during a big political story, and she came out of it quite abhorred with the seeming immaturity of many of the mostly-young people working there towards the role they were performing.

I guess I'm wondering what those schools actually teach people? Besides things like spelling and grammar and how to make a good impression in front of a camera and so on.

by Tim Watkin on November 10, 2011
Tim Watkin

I'm sure it varies Mike. Back in my day it was how to find an angle and lead, structure a story depending on topic and media etc, write an inverted pyramid story or a feature narrative, media law and ethics, how to write (which is a lifetime of learning, right there), how to do shorthand... how to record and edit radio, when to quote, how to edit, write a headline and a caption, ask a question, listen for an answer, convince someone to talk to you, the impact of new media, what makes a good sound or picture grab... Really, it goes on and on.

I've got a feeling newer graduates are not getting some of the grounding we used to get, but as with much in life, it's often what you do with it that counts. There were excellent and rubbish journalists when I started and there are the same now.

In the old days, training was more often done via cadetships in the newsrooms – you learnt on the job. I'm not sure if there were really many who came across from other professions. I can't think of many from my experience.

by tom farmer on November 20, 2011
tom farmer
Source to DF's dazzling array of argumentativeness would appear to me a reflection of phantasizing Hollywood moguls. Whose obsession in provisioning movies was at one time based around WTF lead role was offered. Tacky times! I run the risk of not being read at this blog's date, but the email in your intray from me this day relates to a recent nzh piece on cuppa etc. Comment there not possible as they don't work registrants on sundays.
by tom farmer on November 20, 2011
tom farmer

Source to DF's dazzling array of argumentativeness would appear to me a reflection of phantasizing Hollywood moguls. Whose obsession in provisioning movies was at one time based around WTF lead role was offered. Tacky times!

I run the risk of not being read at this blog's date, but the email in your intray from me this day relates to a recent nzh piece on cuppa etc. Comment there not possible as they don't work registrants on sundays.

by tom farmer on November 20, 2011
tom farmer

oops! sorry for double-up comments.. submitted first before comment formatter came up.. then when it did i found the way to separate pars.. mental note: with Perry-like gesture, wait on lad, do something else, come on back.. etc.

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