Celebrity website Celebuzz announced in late March that it will no longer publish paparazzi photos of celebrities’ children.
Numerous outlets have made this promise lately, including: E! Entertainment, Today show, People magazine, Just Jared, Entertainment Tonight.
The decision came in response to calls made by celebrities to keep their children’s lives private, specifically at a hearing for the California Senate Bill 606.
The bill, approved by California’s governor in September, establishes penalties for “any person who intentionally harasses the child or ward of any other person because of the person’s employment.” (More on the bill on the California legislature’s website.) According to the Associated Press, the bill took “effect in January” and “violators could face up to a year in county jail and a fine of up to $10,000.”
Reuters reported last year that the California Newspaper Publishers Association had opposed the bill.
Actresses Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner both spoke to the California State Assembly about the matter. Garner said, acording to the Los Angeles Times:
“Being stalked has been hard for me, but it’s beyond what a child should have to endure. The price paid for pictures of celebrity children is now absurdly high. They have a bounty on their heads every day. Literally every day there are as many as 15 cars of photographers waiting outside our home. Large, aggressive men swarm us, causing a mob scene, yelling, jockeying for position, crowding around the kids.”
Did the threat of possible legislation prompt this cascade of promises from celebrity outlets?
Following that, actress Kristen Bell (of Showtime’s House of Lies and Veronica Mars) and her husband Dax Shepard (of Parenthood) reiterated the call for celebrity children to keep their privacy.
Bell said in an interview, “We’re not saying that we can’t be newsworthy. We’re saying that our child is not newsworthy.”
In a letter to readers, Celebuzz made the following promise to readers:
“Like many outlets before us, we are also making the commitment to not publish photos of celebrity kids that aren’t approved first by their parents.
“That means CB! will no longer be running paparazzi photos of celeb children other than those shared via social media and taken at events where the parents are aware of the possibility a photographer will take their picture.”
Celebuzz announcement follows E!, Today Show, People mag & others
The month before Celebuzz’s announcement, numerous outlets including E! Entertainment, NBC’s Today, People magazine, and celebrity website Just Jared, also said they won’t show paparazzi photos of the children, according to the Los Angeles Times.
On Feb. 26, E! Entertainment’s president, Suzanne Kolb, said in a letter published on E Online, that after a meeting with Kristen Bell, E decided “we will not feature photos of children that were taken without parental consent.”
E! said where the line is drawn: “When celebrities proudly choose to share photos of their children on social media, appear with their child on the red carpet or a similar public event, or otherwise endorse an image of their child, we will feature the photo or video. Equally, if the child is a celebrity in their own way (e.g., an actor or similar), we may also elect to feature them.”
Bell responded to the decision:
— Kristen Bell (@IMKristenBell) February 26, 2014
People magazine and Today both announced in late February to not publish paparazzi photos of children. “[W]e will take that same pledge. we will no longer air paparazzi photos of celebrity kids on this program,” the Today transcript read Feb. 26.
People announced its decision in a Feb. 25 Editor’s Letter from editorial director Jess Cagle. Cagle’s letter said in part:
“These celebrity parents have lobbied to increase punishment for overly aggressive photographers who, for example, harass parents and kids outside schools. They’ve also made the media more sensitive to the brutal tactics some freelance photographers use to get even the most innocent-looking shots of celebs’ kids at play.”
Cagle wrote that she hasn’t allowed photos of “celeb kids’ taken against their parents’ wishes, in print or online” since January.
She wrote of the balancing line:
“Of course, we still run a lot of sanctioned photos – like exclusive baby pictures taken with the cooperation of celebrity parents, and photos of stars posing with their kids at events (like a red carpet) where they’re expecting and willing to be photographed. But we have no interest in running kids’ photos taken under duress. Of course, there may be rare exceptions based on the newsworthiness of photos. And there’s always the tough balancing act we face when dealing with stars who exploit their children one day, and complain about loss of privacy the next.”
Just Jared announced its decision Feb. 25, calling it an “exciting announcement!” The statement reads:
“Effective immediately, JustJared.com and JustJaredJr.com will be enforcing a #NoKidsPolicy, which means we won’t be publishing unauthorized photos or videos of celebrities’ children who are not public figures themselves.”
“We are proud to support Kristen Bell and other celebrities in their efforts to protect their children from intrusive paparazzi… It is our sincere hope that having ET take a leadership position on this issue sends a clear message to the photographers taking these shots, that this behavior will not be tolerated or supported.”