No more shaking in his shoes every three months for newly axed Star columnist Steve Penn…
While the rest of the newspaper’s staff stands braced for the next round of what have become almost inevitable quarterly cutbacks and/or layoffs, Penn got his walking papers over the weekend.
"For using material that wasn’t his and representing it as his own work," the paper explained to readers this morning.
A staggering loss? Not really.
Penn, along with fellow news columnist Mike Hendricks took a major hit two years ago and were converted to part timers in one quarterly cutback. Penn took it like a man, quietly suffering the hit while Hendricks brayed and whined on his Facebook page and inviting "friends" to help him find a better-paying job elsewhere.
But that was then; and now?
"I don’t know, I think Steve was a well-liked guy at the Star," says Penn pal Craig Glazer. "And he was very close to former mayor Emanuel Cleaver, former city manager Wayne Cauthen and Ollie Gates. He was from the urban core and it’s going to be hard to replace him in that sense."
Glazer’s relationship with Penn?
"He’s a dear friend of mine. We’ve only done a few news stories, but I’ve worked with him. I helped him get an agent to help get a book deal. I don’t know where that’s at, but he wrote a book about the Black Panthers. And he was working on a book about Precious Doe. And we both belong to Woodside aand I see Steve a lot there."
Glazer’s take on pal Penn getting axed?
"Well, when I spoke to him today, he was upset," Glazer says. "He’s been at the Star for 31 years. He started there as a copy boy and got his own column 11 years ago. He said he didn’t want to go into any details except he felt he’d had a tremendous run at the Star and didn’t want to say anything bad about them.
"And he said, he would look for a job outside of journalism because the print industry is so darn thin. There’s not much out there. He said, look at the writers that have left the Star like Jason Whitlock – who has had issues – and Jeff Flanagan, who’s not been able to land anything. He said about the only reporter who’s been able to find any work in Kansas City is Hearne Christopher – he’s written for about every newspaper or magazine other than the Star and the Pitch since he’s left. But there just isn’t much out there."
As for the actual axing, "Steve said they treated him very well," Glazer continues. "He found out about all this over the weekend."
Did he get a severance package?
"He said, ‘I can’t comment on that,’ " Glazer says. "But it sounded like he did."
Did he cop to the plagiarism charges?
"I didn’t ask him that," Glazer says. "But he said, in retorspect, "If I’d referenced or attributed some of that stuff it would have been different. And I realize now I should have done that.
"You know what? I think with all the pressure there at the Star, I think Steve was kind of relieved in that in his heart, he knew this was going to happen because they are getting rid of the old guard reporters. I mean,, look who they’ve cut. And for two reasons; one, the money. And two, new dogs, new tricks. They’re going young and they’re going cheaper. They’re trying to survive."