The Kansas City Star dismissed longtime employee and columnist Steve Penn on Tuesday for using material that wasnt his and representing it as his own work.
Penn, 53, joined The Star in July 1980 and became a metro columnist in 2000.
His column sought out human interest stories among the people and places of Kansas City.
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 Penns columns dating back to 2008.
We value Steves many years of service to The Star, said Mike Fannin, editor and vice president of the newspaper. Unfortunately, in these instances over an extended period of time, Steve made some serious errors of judgment that we concluded were clear violations of our ethics policy. Regrettably, that means we must part ways.
Among the examples, a Penn column last month recounted the career and impact of the late restaurateur Maxine Virginia Byrd by taking key descriptive phrases and entire portions from a funeral parlors release.
Penn originally wrote: Over the years, Byrd was able to turn her dream into a successful business that created a crowd of what she called regulars that ate breakfast with her every morning. She made sure she had an atmosphere that welcomed everyone. No one left hungry. She never turned anyone away. She had a little green box of IOUs that she kept behind the counter.
The text was nearly identical to the release.
For a March column, Penn filed a lead sentence that began, One of the most historic events in Kansas history has been recreated on video . The sentence was changed in the editing process, but Penns original beginning was identical to the first sentence in a press release about the video, which recreated the last day of the Wyandotte Convention that led to statehood for Kansas. Several other paragraphs were also identical or nearly identical to those in the release.
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.