Ghostwritten op-ed

could set bad precedent

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

I have two large problems with VCU President Michael Rao’s ghostwritten op-ed supporting the much-discussed redevelopment plan for downtown Richmond.

First, as a reader, I expect truth in advertising. I know we seem to be in the post-truth era, but when I read an article in The Times-Dispatch, I assume that the person credited with writing it actually did the work, not some hired gun employed by an entity with much skin in the game, in this case, the developer. I am well aware that op-ed pieces often are ghostwritten, but usually when that happens, they’re written by someone belonging to the same organization. In this case, Rao appears to be carrying water, surreptitiously, for the developer. As a reader, I feel misled. A double byline, shared with the actual writer, explaining for whom the actual writer works, would have been a better way to do it.

Second, as a VCU alumnus, I feel that the academic integrity of the school has been damaged. What happens when a student turns in someone else’s work and gets caught? The next time it happens, maybe the offending student should point out that the school’s president has no problem appending his name to another person’s words.

Integrity starts at the top. Leaders should set an example, and this is not a good one.

Howard Owen.


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