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'People' Magazine Vows Not to Publish Paparazzi Shots of Celeb Kids

Just last month, actors Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard made headlines when they came down hard on gossip mags and entertainment sites that publish unauthorized photos of celeb kids.

For the record, they weren’t talking about those “first photoshoot” spreads that feature famous parents posing with their brand new baby; or even the act of repurposing Instagram shots that celebs post of their kids, themselves. They were talking about those other celeb kid photos we’ve all grown used to seeing—the ones that get taken when paparazzi pop out of bushes or camp right outside a home, just to get a quick shot of Violet Affleck jetting off to school or see what Suri Cruise is wearing today.

Bell and Shepard made their case against “kid stalking” heard across Twitter loud and clear, calling upon publications like People, Us Weekly, and In Touch to simply stop posting—or else. But until now, none of the publications seemed to answer their plea. Finally, on Tuesday, People magazine was the first to respond publicly, when its editorial director, Jess Cagle, posted an editor’s letter to the People Web site addressing the issue.

“Lately, several celebrities, including Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry, have been vocal about the paparazzi who can sometimes make life hell for stars and their children,” the letter begins. “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. The editors at People have always been careful when dealing with photos of kids, but in the past few months our sensitivity has been significantly heightened, and our editorial practices have changed accordingly.”

The letter continues on to explain that as of January, People has ceased its practices of posting celebrity kid photos taken against their parents’ wishes—in print and online. Of course, there are a few rare exceptions depending on the newsworthiness of a photo. But otherwise, People says it will only be running pre-sanctioned photoshoot images and shots taken at press events where celeb parents have essentially given the OK to run photos.

Cagle adds that the decision is about more than just business; it’s personal. “My colleagues and I are journalists,” he says, “but we’re also mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles. I have close friends who are actors, and I’ve seen them struggle to protect their kids from photographers and reporters across the line.”

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