Amid all the high-profile chin-stroking about journalistic ethics in the last couple of weeks, I’ve been wondering: Why does nobody much seem to have a problem with the common-as-water practice of op-ed ghost writing? Sure, presumably the nominal author of a piece written by some research assistant endorses the contents, but isn’t it a little odd that editors who make “disclosure” and “transparency” professional mantras seem not to blink at running articles purporting to be written by one person and actually written by another? I bounced the question off a few D.C. friends who seemed to think that precisely because the practice was so common, it didn’t really count as deceptive: Everyone assumes that an op-ed festooned with a sufficiently famous byline (of someone not a professional writer, anyway) was actually penned by someone else. But I rather doubt that really is most people’s assumption outside the Beltway. Sure, I can think of various reasons why you might not regarded at a terribly big deal, but it’s still a little surprising that it doesn’t even seem to be a topic of debate.

—posted by Julian


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