Charlie Whelan says . . .
Don't believe it - "Televised lobby will end culture of secrecy"
I suppose if you get the chief executive of the Guardian Media Group to draw up plans to change the press lobby system, then you can expect a complete parcel of bollocks. It was the Guardian, remember, that left the lobby on a matter of principle, only to return with its tail between its legs when it realised it was missing out on all the stories.
Now, I have nothing against the TV cameras coming in to film the daily lobby briefings, but anyone who thinks that this would "open" them up has no idea how political journalism works. All that would happen is that a separate "off the record" briefing would take place, as it does in America. The only people who would benefit from bringing in the TV cameras are the television political editors, who would become even more pompous.
The biggest joke in the report of the committee chaired by Bob Phillis is the proposal that a new, powerful communications system should be set up, policed by Whitehall, to ensure professionalism. The idea that anyone in Whitehall could be professional when it comes to the media is laughable.
Just as I thought that the committee couldn't come up with much more of this rubbish, we got a real gem. The media should make "a clearer separation of facts from news, comment and entertainment". Does anyone believe this will really happen? Let's hope that this report ends up where it belongs: in the dustbin of history. The early indications are good. Douglas Alexander, responding for the government, said that he would be consulting on many of the recommendations. The seasoned lobby hack knows this means it will be quietly forgotten. Thank goodness for that.