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Anorak Media Studies: How To Run A Tabloid Phone Poll

by | 20th, March 2008

tabloid-poll.jpgTHE Sun says its phone lines were “bombarded” when it asked the question: “Is Paul Burrell or Heather Mills the bigger liar?”

With the votes in, the paper says 83 per cent of its readers think Mills is “No.1 for porky pies”.

But how many votes were polled?

Newspapers hold phone polls for the same reason that Saddam Hussein used to hold the occasional election – not to provide an objective measure of public opinion, but to see how close to 100% of the vote they could get.

That is why the questions are always more loaded than a 21-year-old George W Bush at a frat party…

  • Is hanging too good for paedophiles?
  • Do you want to be ruled by Brussels?
  • Are bouncy British breasts better than saggy French baps?

Unlike Saddam, however, the papers never quite get the result they want – there’s always a few readers who misunderstand the question, dial the wrong number or are just plain bloody-minded.

And it only takes a few. The reason why most papers only publish the result in percentages is because it would be too embarrassing to admit that only a handful of people actually bothered to phone in.

“A whopping 88% of you think Jordan’s breasts are a national treasure” sounds a lot better than “A magnificent seven of you want the silicone mountains preserved for posterity”.

However, it doesn’t really matter how many people vote or how many times people vote; nor that the electorate is as representative of the general public as Morris Dancing is of the British club scene.

The important thing is that their readers have spoken…and their voice will be listened to.

Hell truly hath no fury like a tabloid scorned – and woe betide the government which doesn’t alter its whole foreign policy to suit the views of a couple of hundred cranks with an axe to grind and a large phone bill to pay.



Posted: 20th, March 2008 | In: Tabloids Comments (3) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink