Digital pebbles

Clarke Mulder Purdie on PR, media and other random topics

Should you ghost-write a blog?

Posted by Graham Hayday on October 12, 2007

The short answer to that question is ‘no’. But the long answer is a little more complex.

I was spurred into thinking about the topic again while reading this article earlier in the week.

I’ve long argued that the Guardian’s Comment Is Free isn’t a blog in the true sense of the word. It’s just a place where opinion pieces are published and people can comment on them.

(For fear of blowing my former employers’ trumpet, silicon.com started allowing readers to post comments on every piece of news and opinion content back in the late 90s, if memory serves. We didn’t call it blogging.)

Nevertheless, the Guardian piece does open up the debate about whether a blog (in the Jeff Jarvis sense of the word) should ever be ghost-written.

He would certainly say ‘no’. Most hard-core bloggers would. I therefore got some nasty stares when I suggested otherwise at an event we held recently.

But I think different rules apply when you’re talking about corporate blogging, whether you like it or not.

B2B magazines (and national newspapers for that matter, especially the letters pages) often feature ghost-written submissions, and no one really questions their authenticity, or minds that they may not be written by the person whose name’s attached to them.

So why do bloggers get so precious about this? Who wrote the commandment that reads ‘thou shalt not compose a ghost-written blog?’

I agree that such blogs tend not to be as effective as the ‘pure’ ones, but they still can be highly readable (and to put my PR hat on, can work as part of a company’s communications strategy).

I also admit that they go against the ‘ethics’ of blogging – one reason why blogs have become so popular is dissatisfaction among readers/viewers with mainstream media’s tendency to indulge in deception and to have hidden agendas.

It would be a shame if the world of the blog got dragged into the same murky waters in which the mainstream media find themselves floundering these days. Transparency is one of the blogosphere’s watchwords.

But ghost-written blogs are a reality, and are here to stay. We may as well get used to it.

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