Bracknell News wins battle to name youngsters

A weekly newspaper has persuaded a school to back down after it threatened to impose a ban on releasing the full names of pupils to the press, writes Dominic Ponsford.

Bracknell News editor Paul Ryan wrote to the Licensed Victuallers’ School in Ascot after it informed the paper of the new no-names photographic policy. In future, surnames would be withheld from photos of sports days, plays and other events.

Ryan sent a letter to the school, together with a copy of Bracknell News-owner Trinity Mirror’s policy and guidelines to editors on the use of pictures of children. The head immediately agreed to revoke the ban.

Ryan said: “The school’s press officer phoned and said our letter and policy document was like gold dust to him. He went straight to the head who said if that is the policy of a major newspaper group then let’s go with it. It’s a remarkably enlightened response.

He added: “They still send a letter to parents asking them to say if they do not wish their child to be in pictures. If they are in pictures they will be fully named.”

The policy was drawn up by Trinity Mirror Southern editorial director Marc Reeves and Berkshire Regional Newspapers editor-in-chief Anthony Longden.

Reeves said: “Increasing numbers of TMS titles were being approached by schools, or coming up against knee-jerk bans. One paper was even told it could only take pictures of children if they held pieces of paper over their faces to obscure their identities.

“We drew up the guidelines to state the case for keeping full names in papers, and to reassure teachers and parents that our papers act with the utmost sensitivity in this area.

“The guidelines have persuaded many schools to think again, but none so satisfyingly as in Bracknell.

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