Pitch: Penn’s claim that copying press releases is common practice at Star ‘total horseshit’

Eyebrows were raised when former Star columnist Steve Penn filed a lawsuit against his former employer, who fired him last year for allegedly copying press releases and passing the words off as his own. In the suit, Penn claims:

“The widespread practice in journalism is to treat such press releases as having been voluntarily released by their authors into the flow of news with the intention that the release will be reprinted or published, and preferably with no or minimal editing … As such, attribution of such news releases is typically not expected by the author, nor offered by journalists who receive them. … [It is] the widespread practice at the Star … to use these press releases without attribution.”

The Pitch delves into the issue, and most folks at the Star are aghast at the claim, though there was no official statement. One of Penn’s former colleagues, who asked to remain anonymous, called it “total horseshit.”

The lawsuit itself, as the Pitch’s Matt Pearce notes, contains some serious errors itself:

The lawsuit, filed in Jackson County, Missouri, is addressed to the circuit court of Jackson County, Kansas. It misidentifies Star publisher Mi-Ai Parrish as the paper’s editor, also misspelling her name. And, perhaps most puzzling, the lawsuit identifies Penn, a general-interest columnist, as a sports columnist who “would inform the public of upcoming high school and college sporting events and/or otherwise communicate news of interest to those who followed high school or college sports in the Kansas City area.”


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