Youth magazine launch halted by picture fears

Kelly: “massive enthusiasm” for new title before photo clampdown

An editor who planned to publish a national Catholic youth magazine has had to put the project on hold because parents and schools no longer want pictures of their children and pupils published.

As Press Gazette reported earlier this year (10 January), a combination of the Data Protection Act and fear of paedophiles has led to a clampdown on pictures traditionally made available to newspapers by schools and sports clubs.

Joe Kelly, editor of the Catholic national weekly The Universe, was well down the road to launching the magazine when the potential picture supply suddenly dried up.

“The plan was to launch a national Catholic youth magazine which would have been a 64-page glossy,” said Kelly. “The project had been under way for around 18 months.

“I spent a lot of time last year canvassing opinion around the country and there was massive enthusiasm for the idea.” Kelly believes the atmosphere began to change back in the summer when there was huge media publicity about the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in Soham.

“There were then problems towards the end of the year with concern over pictures and the filming of nativity plays,” said Kelly.

“There was a complete turning of the tide, with schools really nervous about supplying pictures.

“The magazine would have been dependent to a large degree on the supply of pictures from around the country, so when it looked like this source had dried up, the idea had to be put on the backburner.” Kelly has also found problems with The Universe itself, which relies on pictures of children to enliven some of its pages.

“We are actually not getting anything through from schools now,” he said. “Teachers are saying yes we won a cup, but we don’t want to send pictures of the children along.”

While admitting the frustration of the present situation, Kelly also recognises a dilemma. “I suppose the other side of the coin is that no one wants to be the editor who named the kid who got abducted as a result of a story,” he said.

By Paul Donovan

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