While it’s clear former Kansas City Star columnist Steve Penn‘s lawyer was more than a little sloppy in penning a lawsuit on Penn’s behalf against the newspaper, it’s ironic that in blasting Penn for those errors and omissions, the Pitch unleashed a bevy of its own errors while pillorying Penn and his lawsuit.
Case in point, the online correction the Pitch ran:
“(Editor’s note: Mark Zieman was the Star‘s editor, not its publisher, in 2003. Art Brisbane was the publisher at the time; we’ve made this correction in the online version of this story.)”
That wasn’t the local alt weekly’s only error.
In diminishing Penn’s lawsuit, the Pitch states incorrectly that Penn was suing for only $25,000 plus damages, referring to him as scrounging for “loose change.”
I don’t know how many lawsuits rookie Pitch reporter Matt Pearce has read, but Penn’s lawsuit “prays for judgement” in an amount “no less than $25,000” plus punitive damages and other additional relief as the court may deem just.
And that’s just the tip of this journalistic legal reporting iceberg.
Because it’s not merely a $25,000 lawsuit, that’s just the standard legal boilerplate required by Missouri courts.
“The Pitch is stupid,” says Kansas City lawyer John Craig. “That’s the standard deal. If your client is paralyzed for life, you don’t sue for $10 billion – they don’t allow you to sue to $10 billion. They only allow you to sue for $25,000. That’s the standard number in Missouri and a lot of states.”
In other words, the monetary stakes in Penn’s lawsuit are far higher.
Another bit of silliness: “So far, the Star is declining to put up its gloves,” Pearce writes.
Trust me, the Star‘s gloves are on and its dukes are up.
There’s no way the company would field any lawsuit – let alone one by a longtime former employee who happens to be a minority, without taking the matter dead seriously.
That the newspaper won’t feed a quote to a former intern in no way diminishes the seriousness of a possible heavily-covered-by-local TV courtroom drama.
Not with the prospect of Penn putting local African American movers and shakers like Ollie Gates, Emanuel Cleaver and Alvin Brooks on the stand to testify about his body of work in 31 years at the paper.
And certainly not with Star editors likely being called to the stand to defend not firing black reporter Glenn Rice for the far more egregious journalistic sin of ripping off passages from another writer’s entertainment review and submitting them as his own.
Nope, the dukes are up dude. Trust me.
One interesting omission: the Pitch quotes me on Penn’s firing from my writing on KC Confidential without attributing my words to this website. In fact, it’s the longest attributed quote in Pearce’s piece.
Yet unlike every other named individual in the story that was quoted, the Pitch left out that my words were appropriated from KC Confidential. Which is pretty petty for a struggling alt weekly that tries to pass as a credible news organization.
What the Pitch didn’t leave out: That I was “a perpetually-aggrieved media hanger-on.”
There are two things the Star and Pitch have in common.
They can dish it out, but when it comes to criticism coming their way, they totally can’t take it.
Steve Penn declined to comment for this story.