LONDON: Prime Minister Tony Blair's press office has objected to
the tone of an article in UK paper The Times that described a media
training program organized by Downing Street.
Jill Sherman, the paper's Whitehall editor, reported last week that
Alastair Campbell, director of strategy and communication, is setting up
a "school of spin" in Downing Street "to train officials in media
According to a memo obtained by the paper, the training will bring press
officers throughout various government offices into temporary positions
at No. 10. They will be assigned mentors and given a chance to
experience PR life at the highest political echelon.
But the article states that the program is part of a strategy to groom
liaisons in other government departments, and to bring new talent to No
"It is clear Mr. Campbell wants something in return: a beefed-up
spinning team to take on Sunday newspaper journalists," the article
A Downing Street spokesperson confirmed that the program will be taking
place once Parliament comes back from its summer recess. But she said
that there is nothing unusual in the program, and that similar training
had been run by prior administrations.
"Talk about spin - the story itself is spin," she told PRWeek. "This has
been done in the past with the previous governments. We are just
reviving the idea." She said a slow news cycle has meant this story was
"completely overwritten. But hopefully it will encourage lots of people
to apply." Sherman declined to comment.