Tory media operation wins broad vote of confidence from national press

PRWeek polls newspaper correspondents on performance of Conservative press office.

David Cameron: press team now under scrutiny
David Cameron: press team now under scrutiny

In a week when Conservative comms director Andy Coulson has been hauled over the coals, national newspaper correspondents have given his party's media operation a major thumbs up.

PRWeek spoke to 20 specialist correspondents from across the spectrum of national newspapers. Twelve of those questioned rated the Tory operation as 'good' while four described it as 'excellent'. Only four correspondents said it was merely 'satisfactory' and none of those questioned felt it was 'poor'.

The Tory media operation has been the subject of some renewed media scrutiny following claims by The Guardian that thousands of high- profile figures had their mobile phones hacked into by the News of The World, which was edited by Coulson at the time.

The Sun's defence editor Tom Newton Dunn told PRWeek he was increasingly impressed by the Tory media team: 'It has been really impressive with a quite dramatic improvement over the past six months. The defence front bench team and its PR support have really got their act together after they had missed a few tricks in previous years.'

The Guardian's health correspondent Denis Campbell was also full of praise, saying: 'The team is very responsive ... it understands it is good to get original stories out to carefully selected journalists.'

But not all the journalists questioned were as positive. The Independent's home affairs and legal editor Robert Verkaik said: 'They could be more inviting and more hands-on. They are still a bit distant ... Power does seem to have swung their way and they can afford to be less solicitous in dealing with the media.'

And The Times' arts correspondent Ben Hoyle admitted: 'I expected them to be a bit more proactive.'

More on Murdochgate, page 3

Views on Tory team

'Really impressive ... a quite dramatic improvement' Tom Newton Dunn, defence editor, The Sun

'Prompt and professional' Stephen Wright, crime editor, Daily Mail

'Pretty accessible' Nicola Woolcock, education correspondent, The Times

'Still a bit distant' Robert Verkaik, home affairs and legal editor, The Independent

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