When was the last time you saw any footage from the prime minister’s much-heralded televised briefings on a main news bulletin?
The White House-style press conferences were part of a plan to
demystify the lobby system and allow Tony Blair to get his message
straight to the public. As many predicted, the result has been a series
of bland, un-newsworthy events.
So it’s no surprise that a
further plan – put forward following the Phillis report into government
communications – to use a similar system for briefings from other
ministers has been dropped.
Although lobby journalists were not
against the briefings per se, they feared they would come to replace
their own briefings, away from the cameras, in which more sensitive
information could be discussed.
As Sir Christopher Meyer said at
the time, “There will always be a market in the worlds of policy and
politics for information conveyed in ways other than on the record.”