Kansas City Star columnist Steve Penn fired for plagiarism

Kansas City StarBottom 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.

  • Steve Myers

    Steve Myers was the managing editor of Poynter.org until August 2012, when he became the deputy managing editor and senior staff writer for The Lens, a nonprofit investigative news site in New Orleans.


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