Ghostwriting and transparency

Over the years in this business, I’ve found that the general public rarely thinks about ghostwriting — when someone [often a busy executive or celebrity] hires someone else to write in his or her name. Most people assume that when your name is attached to an article, you’re the one who wrote it.

As a professional writer and editor, I know that’s not true many times, but neither does the practice generally bother me. Honestly, if the CEO were spending a lot of time fiddling with the “Message from the Home Office” in the newsletter you get every month, I’d say his or her priorities were out of whack.

But wow, this article in the New York Times today really caught me off guard. Apparently, it’s not uncommon for drug companies to author papers that researchers then submit under their own names to scientific journals.

I can be pretty cynical. I watch The Daily Show. I know how corporate America works. But this one caught even me off guard.

So, we can sum up why this is wrong in a pretty simple manner: When the drug company is writing the article but putting an independent researcher’s name on it, they’re failing to disclose their bias. Perhaps that’s a good test for when it’s OK to have a ghostwriter and when it has to come from the source in other areas, as well.

Are we failing to reveal a bias if the CEO has someone in marketing write his monthly column in the newsletter? No. Presumably, the CEO and the marketing department are singing from the same page of the hymnal.

Related: Should newspapers, magazines and bloggers make it clear when they received a free copy of a book or record to review? Absolutely. While the potential for bias is small, it should be transparent. This is part of the reason why Consumer Reports is in business. By purchasing everything they rate at market prices, they eliminate even a whiff of bias from their reviews.

In the corporate world, we often don’t think twice about ghostwriting. But it’s critical to ensure that our customers know exactly who’s talking. Many large corporations have learned this lesson the hard way in the past few years, as the Internet creates a heretofore-unknown level of transparency. Make sure you’ll be comfortable if the real writer is revealed.

7 Responses to Ghostwriting and transparency

  1. singing vocal lessons January 26, 2010 at 11:29 pm #

    Just want to say your article is striking. The clarity in your post is simply striking and i can take for granted you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your rss feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the ac complished work. Excuse my poor English. English is not my mother tongue.

  2. singing vocal lessons January 27, 2010 at 5:29 am #

    Just want to say your article is striking. The clarity in your post is simply striking and i can take for granted you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your rss feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the ac complished work. Excuse my poor English. English is not my mother tongue.

  3. Farmville Cheats January 29, 2010 at 11:48 am #

    Saw your blog bookmarked on Digg.I love your site and marketing strategy.

  4. Farmville Cheats January 29, 2010 at 5:48 am #

    Saw your blog bookmarked on Digg.I love your site and marketing strategy.

  5. Laura Creekmore March 13, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

    Thanks for your kind comment! Glad you enjoy my blog.

  6. Laura Creekmore March 13, 2010 at 7:47 am #

    Thanks for your kind comment! Glad you enjoy my blog.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Ghostwriting and transparency | Creekmore Consulting IM Consultant - September 18, 2009

    […] post:  Ghostwriting and transparency | Creekmore Consulting By admin | category: small business consulting | tags: consumer-reports, market-prices, […]

Leave a Reply

Connect with Facebook

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes