Kansas City Star / Bottom Line Communications
The Kansas City Star fired Steve Penn, a human interest columnist since 2000, on Tuesday “for using material that wasn’t his and representing it as his own work,” the newspaper reports.
In the normal editing process and a follow-up review, it was discovered that Penn had lifted material from press releases verbatim, in some cases presenting others’ conclusions and opinions as his own and without attribution. Editors found more than a dozen examples in Penn’s columns dating back to 2008.
The paper describes a few examples of the plagiarism:
- A column last month about the death of a restaurateur took “descriptive phrases and entire portions from a funeral parlor’s release.”
- In March, he wrote a lead sentence that “was identical to the first sentence in a press release” and copied (or nearly copied) other paragraphs.
- Another June column “repeated nearly an entire release about a partnership between the Duke Ellington family and Alaadeen Enterprises Inc. to aid U.S. veterans.”
Penn had been with the Star since 1980.
Related: The Independent suspends columnist Johann Hari, accused of lifting quotes from articles and interviewees’ own books.
Correction: This post originally said that Hari works for the Guardian. He’s a columnist for The Independent.