Journalist fired for using press release material sues ex-employer

Steve Penn claims the practice was allowed at the Kansas City Star.

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But for a journalist using that release it can mean the end of a career.

That was the case for Kansas City Star columnist Steve Penn, who last July was fired for repurposing content verbatim from press releases without attribution.

A story on Thursday says that Penn is now suing Star owner McClatchy Newspapers, insisting the practice was allowed at the paper. Penn says that management didn’t inform of a change in policy. He is suing McClatchy for $25,000, plus punitive damages, claiming that the firing has hurt his career.

Poynter reported:

“In his complaint, Penn, who joined the paper in 1980, says ‘the widespread practice in journalism is to treat such releases as having been voluntarily released by their authors into the flow of news with the intention that the release will be reprinted or republished, and preferably with no or minimal editing.’

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