Political journalists set to follow Pascoe-Watson into public affairs

Senior political journalists are considering following The Sun's political editor George Pascoe-Watson into public affairs, it was claimed this week.

It emerged last week that Pascoe-Watson will move to Portland after 22 years at the tabloid. This week, a former lobby colleague congratulated Pascoe-Watson on a 'bold move' and predicted that more senior journalists would follow suit.

David Cracknell quit his role as political editor at The Sunday Times in January 2008 to join City PR firm FD. He now runs his own agency Big Tent Communications.

Cracknell told PRWeek: 'When I left The Sunday Times two years ago on my path to forming Big Tent, it was pretty lonely being a lobby man in the comms world. Then came Guto Harri and Kamal Ahmed, among others, and now George Pascoe-Watson of The Sun. And I don't think "GPW" will be the last senior editor to cross over in the coming months.'

He added: 'I've have had a few conversations recently with old Fleet Street colleagues asking what it's like on the other side. I suspect he had the same revelation I did. There is life outside the Westminster bubble and more exciting challenges to boot, whether it's advising a foreign government or big-name brand.

'Former colleagues complain about a downward trend in circulation, redundancies and budget cuts. It's a very different world to what it was. GPW should be congratulated on a bold move into consultancy, where his high-level media and political nous will be appreciated. I've certainly never looked back.'

The news of the move broke around 6pm last Thursday after News International told its staff. The first journalist to react publicly was The Sun's Whitehall editor David Wooding, who expressed his astonishment on Twitter by writing: 'Jeepers Creepers!'

Minutes later fellow lobby journalist Paul Waugh, deputy political editor at the London Evening Standard, reported: 'Bombshell news in the lobby. The Sun's legendary political editor George Pascoe-Watson is to quit.'

The Observer's political editor Gaby Hinsliff was similarly taken aback. She described Pascoe-Watson as a 'leather-trousered lobby legend' and said his departure was 'truly the end of an era'.

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