Guido Fawkes editor Paul Staines has said the Lobby’s control over Government press briefings is “finished” after a U-turn on rules banning live reporting prompted by the political blogging site.
Reporters from Guido began live tweeting the contents of morning briefings with the Government’s official spokesperson this week in contravention of Lobby rules which stated that journalists must wait until the meeting is finished before reporting what has been said.
Guido’s reporters are not members of the Lobby, which is made up of political journalists based at Westminster including national, regional and foreign press, news agencies and broadcasters, but do have security passes that allow them the same level of access.
As a result they said they were not obliged to obey the Lobby’s “quaint rules” on competition and refused to comply, continuing to tweet despite a reported uproar from other journalists on Tuesday.
Guido reported that Lobby chairman Christopher Hope, also Telegraph chief political correspondent, informed members today that as a result of Guido tweeting “everyone is now allowed to file or tweet as things happen now”.
— Media Guido (@MediaGuido) January 23, 2020
Political journalists from national and digital-only titles began tweeting this morning’s briefing as a result, with Guido declaring it a victory.
The change has only been possible as a result of the Government’s decision to move press briefings from Parliament to Downing Street since the start of the year, a move that was met with “serious concerns” from the Lobby.
Previously meetings were held in the Lobby room in Parliament, accessible only by the group’s members.
Guido editor Paul Staines, a vocal critic of the Lobby system, which he labels a “cartel”, told Press Gazette: “It’s about time. It was always ridiculous.
“The Government briefing system hasn’t collapsed and it’s a better service for the readers at the end of the day, rather than for the convenience of the Lobby.”
He said the change was a step towards making the briefings televised.
Staines said for the moment his team would only report the morning briefing, which is hosted by the Government, and not the afternoon briefing, which is hosted by the Lobby chairman.
But, he said: “I think it’s just ridiculous now if they don’t have the same rules for the afternoon briefing as well. The chairman of the Lobby has no control over the format anymore. I think that’s finished now.”
Hope has yet to comment.
Picture: Reuters/Press Gazette