NEW YORK (PR Worldwire) - 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 management."
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 10.
"It is clear Mr Campbell wants something in return: a beefed-up spinning team to take on Sunday newspaper journalists," the article read.
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.