Let me start by saying that two of my colleagues have blogs of their own, which -- at one time or another -- have been mistaken for being Baby magazine's official website. I just found out that this superheroes blog I've had for the past three year has somewhat been given that status, misleading though it may be. But then I do end up blogging mostly about work-related, if not baby-care-related, concerns so it shouldn't be surprising that some readers assume this to be the magazine's online presence. Let me clarify: this is my personal blog. But as long as we're talking about work, I'll use this entry to clarify some more points which some parents who are looking to get their kids' photos published in the mag, may be interested in.
All photos sent to Baby magazine automatically become the property of the company and thereby may be used as deemed fit by the editorial team. No permission is required before publication, unless specifically stated by the persons who sent the photos. In cases like this, however, I'm certain that such photos will never make it to the pages of Baby because magazine production is guided by strict deadlines, and any possible causes of delay are eliminated. Seeking permission for using photos is one cause of delay. In between conceptualizing issues and stories, planning and coordinating pictorials, coordinating with writers, photographers, and artists, hunting down specialists and setting interview schedules with them, writing, editing, proofreading -- in other words, putting together a magazine (and a good one at that) -- spending precious minutes to get in touch with someone to obtain permission to use a photo is simply out of the question. Especially when other pictures are available for use. But more importantly, obtaining permission to use photos for editorial purposes (unless they're posted on websites and other similar instances) is simply not part of editorial policy.
So why, then, go through the trouble of picking out a picture from the emailbox when file photos are already there, or when friends are only too willing to provide the kind of photos we need? Here is the answer:
One thing we do that is not guided by policy is our continuing effort -- alongside our duties as journalists and artists -- to make parents happy. What parent will not be overjoyed by the sight of his/her child's picture in a national magazine? What parent -- who takes the time to have his/her child photographed and to send those photos month after month to our office -- will not feel a sense of pride and accomplishment upon setting eyes on even just one picture on a printed page, for all readers to see? The truth is, in the past several months whenever we decided to use one of the thousands of photos we now have, to accompany an article in the magazine, it's that consideration for parents that has been behind our decision. Apparently, good intentions don't always lead to good results, based on our experience. The usual response is gleeful recognition by the parents (or titos/titas); a couple of reactions have been negative. We therefore will have to rethink this special consideration we've been extending to parents. Probably being more stringent in our selection process is also in order.
Edit: On account of misinterpretations I've seen and to avoid further misinformation among parents, "to rethink this special consideration we've been extending to parents" means this: we will not use unsolicited photos in our articles for the time being -- unless they are from friends and acquaintances whom we are sure will not require being asked for permission, because they know enough about industry standards and know better than to impose what they think ought to be done. This is to avoid any more incidents involving parents who insist on being sought for permission before publishing photos of said parents' child. This will also hopefully discourage further posting of inaccurate statements in public fora that in any way mistakenly portray a situation wherein a parent and an editor had spoken with one another instead of the email exchange that transpired, and wherein parent supposedly somehow got her way, got editor to doubt current practice, and persuaded editor to go against established policies. Bottom line -- as most of us know, not everything will go the way we want it to. It's a life lesson I think all parents work to impart to their children, so in this case involving editorial guidelines, "in life, we will not always get our way" would be a good dictum to remember. The sooner it is accepted, the better for everyone.
Making parents happy is one thing we try to do -- only one of the many things. And we at Baby deal with many parents, many families, many specialists. The world does not revolve around any of them. The world does not revolve around us in the magazine. We are all partners in our goal to produce something month after month that will be worthy of being called an honest to goodness parenting magazine.
After this clarification and a tiny glimpse into what goes on in magazine production, hopefully parents will be guided accordingly and helped in keeping things in perspective. Then we at Baby will go on as usual, working to come up with a worthy read month after month, helping parents be the best they can be. That's what ultimately matters because babies, indeed, do not come with a manual.
By the way, here are my colleagues' blogs:
Where you put your eyes