To ghost, or not to ghost: that is the question

Our last day of class before spring break was partially spent on the discussion of ghostwriters’ blogging for a company and where it falls on the moral spectrum. I thought this topic was just being addressed as a segue into our next case study, so you can imagine my surprise when I came across a blog discussing this same topic.   Bill Sledzik,  an associate professor of Journalism and Mass Communications at Kent State University, spent his long post defending the idea of ghostwriting when done in a professional and responsible manner.

Like many students and professionals alike, I am on the fence. Both sides can make solid arguments. Both are persuasive. Both can make you test your own personal morals. I feel like this is a common trend, not only in PR, but in life in general. There are always two sides to an issue (sometimes more) and when deciding ethically, unfortunately you are the only one who can help yourself.

It’s a scary thought. Knowing that we are soon going to be the little fish in a ginormous pond and realizing that there is no survival guide to help us along. From what I’ve gathered from the handful of people I know already in that pond, is our morals and ethics will be tested continuously throughout our profession. There will always be people to give advice and try to help along the way, but when it comes down to it, you are in charge of your decisions and your future. 

I honestly don’t know what I will do when I am faced with one of these ethical dilemmas, but I would like to hope that I will do what I feel is best without any outside influences. Unfortunately, there will  never be a decision every single person will agree on, but by staying true to ourselves, hopefully we will be able to get through these bumps in the road.

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5 Responses to To ghost, or not to ghost: that is the question

  1. drgilpin says:

    You should know by now that I don’t choose discussion topics just by chance!

    (Also: “Segway” is a vehicle, “segue” means a transition. Pronounced the same, written differently.)

  2. plepkows says:

    I remember feeling a little uncomfortable the first time I wrote a ghost blog as an assignment for JMC 415: Writing for Public Relations. I was initially uncomfortable with the task because blogs are supposed to be expressions of a person’s individual opinions, and someone else writing them clearly presents an ethical debate. For the class, I wrote the blog for my then-employer. I soon came to the conclusion that, as Bill Sledzik discusses in the post, ghostwriting isn’t an ethical issue when it is written ethically and reflects the thoughts of the poster. What does it matter if I wrote the blog or if my boss wrote it, so long as it was about his thoughts? How is this different than speeches politicians give? I highly doubt President Obama wrote every word he spoke when he formally addressed Congress in February. More likely, someone wrote it for him, reflective of his thoughts. Ghostwriting speeches seems to compare well to the issue of ghostwriting blogs. As long as the information is written with the consent of the named poster and accurately reflects his or her thoughts, than why shouldn’t PR professionals be permitted to write these blogs?

  3. mlmyers says:

    I agree with you that I don’t think that there is a problem with ghostwriting a blog when it is done ethically. Unfortunately we don’t like in a perfect world and all it takes is one person to mislead someone before skepticism runs like wildfire. So I can understand the perspective of ghostwriting being frowned upon. But should we let a small handful of people be the deciding factor on what we believe is ethical or not.

  4. jejepson says:

    I believe that ghostwriting is an aspect of public relations that everyone will face at some point in their career. I personally do not believe that it is unethical, as long as it is being done in an ethical manner. I believe that it must be known amongst the people within the organzation that is is being done. Like Plepkos pointed out, President Obama most likely did not write his speech in February. Why is that considered ethical to ghostwrite a speech and not a blog?

  5. allund says:

    Ghostwriting has even been taught at ASU it is something that you might be asked to do in a lot of different work places. I however feel that ghostwritting a blog is a touchy subject. It depends on the type of blog in my mind. If it is a CEO that writes a blog every two weeks, that might make me wonder hmmm is he really writting this? Is he getting help or is a ghost writter writting this hmmm maybe? If it is a daily blogger I absolutely think the situation is different. Daily bloggers or even weekly bloggers should not have ghost writters that type of communication is more of a journal type and shouldn’t be faked.

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