PM's spokesman Simon Lewis announces review of Lobby briefings

Downing Street and the chair of the Parliamentary Lobby today announced a review of the way journalists are briefed by government, as digital media make the cosy world of 'Lobby briefing' feel ever more obsolete.

Lobby review: PM's spokesman Simon Lewis
Lobby review: PM's spokesman Simon Lewis

The Prime Minister's official spokesman (PMOS), Simon Lewis, announced the review at 11am this morning in conjunction with the chair of the Lobby Jean Eaglesham, who is also chief political correspondent for the Financial Times.

They plan to implement the changes by January 2010.

The review has been a major project for Lewis, one of the UK's most experienced and  respected comms professionals, who joined Downing Street in the summer.

Lewis told PRWeek: ‘As the new boy it was an area where I could look at real change for the better. Relations are good with the Lobby, so it's the perfect time to look at this.'

For many years the Parliamentary Lobby, which is made up of political journalists, based in the Houses of Parliament, has received briefings from the PMOS each day. Known as ‘Lobby briefings' they give political journalists the chance to grill the PMOS on current news topics and policy announcements.

But with the advent of digital media, particularly 24-hour rolling news and social channels such as Twitter, political issues develop increasingly quickly. This becomes even more important as a general election approaches.

Lewis and Eaglesham have formed a working group which comprises six journalists from the Lobby and five members from Number 10 and Government Communications.

Those involved in the discussions include Matt Tee (permanent secretary for Government Communications), Jon Craig (chief political correspondent for Sky News) and Vickie Sheriff (the new head of news and the Prime Minister's deputy official spokeswoman.

Discussions will commence in the run up to Christmas.

 

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