News Release Copy: Theft or No Theft?
I came across this article thanks to Hatton Weeks of KAIT in Jonesboro, Arkansas. He retweeted the story from The Poynter Institue, a journalism school founded by Don Baldwin.
The story tells about journalist Steve Penn’s firing from the Kansas City Star last year. According to the story, Steve Penn was fired for taking copy directly from press releases and using it in his columns.
As a public relations professional, I was astounded by the story. When I write a press release, my goal is to write in a manner that requires little to no editing. In a perfect world, the reporter or editor would print exactly what I wrote in the release. According to Penn, the policy at the Kansas City Star allowed reporters to use such copy for years and the policy changed without him being informed of such change.
I’m interested to hear from fellow public relations professionals on this matter. When you all write a press release, do you expect to be attributed for you work? If so, do you make that point clear when sending the press release out to journalists? If you think like me and hope journalists use your copy, let me hear from you as well.