To Attribute or Not Attribute Press Releases
The world of journalism and press communications is all abuzz over the dismissal of 30 year veteran of The Kansas City Star, Steve Penn. Penn was dismissed after it was found that he copied, on multiple occasions, the exact language used in press releases he received without attributing them to their source. (Pitch.com) Now, in a turn of events Penn is suing McClatchy Newspapers Inc., owners of The Kansas City Star. Penn is claiming that his training at the newspaper encouraged copying press releases without attribution and was common practice.
There is a divisive split in opinion among many writers and columnists in groups of media watchers. One communications specialist defended Penn’s actions to Pitch.com stating, “"Competition from social media reporting is creating so much angst within the traditional media, that who knows what's ethical or not."”. However, the writers at Pitch.com stand strongly on with those who support the decision to fire Penn believing it is perfectly ok to find news from a press release but that a columnist’s job is to use that information to make phone calls and inquire about more information because that is the job of the reporter.
This poses the question to the GMT community. Was Steve Penn committing plagiarism by copying press releases or are press releases written with the purpose to be copied? Leave your response in the comments section.