Jul 26, 2018
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Goop hires fact-checker to vet its health advice

Jul 26, 2018

The holistic wellness company, owned by Gwyneth Paltrow, has announced its decision to hire a fact-checker – and revealed that independent verification of health claims made in its magazine was a source of conflict with Condé Nast that contributed to the termination of the partnership with the publishing house.

Photo: Goop

In an interview with the New York Times, Paltrow revealed that the company will hire a full-time fact-checker in September, as part of a larger team dedicated to fact verification. The department will also include a lawyer; a nutritional science expert; and a former Stanford professor as a director of science and research.

The move comes amidst ongoing criticism of the brand for its unconventional alternative health advice, which has included the promotion of a ‘lowest liveable weight’, and accusations of spreading misinformation from independent medical professionals as well as organisations including NASA.

In response, Goop Chief Content Officer Elise Loehnen said that the doctors interviewed by Goop are “highly vetted” and offer advice based on “evidence from their own practices,” the New York Times reported.

According to the newspaper, verification of Goop health tips provoked additional complications for the brand, quickly becoming a sore point in the Condé Nast magazine partnership, announced in May 2017. “We’re never making statements,” Paltrow told the newspaper, in defence of advice from Goop doctors published in its Q&A section. Such content quickly had to be replaced by Condé Nast ahead of magazine publication with articles on travel, it emerged.

Goop’s resistance to the fact checking standards imposed by Condé Nast ultimately led to termination of the partnership after just two editions of the magazine had been published. “They’re a company that’s really in transition and do things in a very old-school way,” Paltrow told the newspaper. “We realized we could just do a better job of it ourselves in-house. I think for us it was really like we like to work where we are in an expansive space. Somewhere like Condé, understandably, there are a lot of rules.”

Paltrow also revealed in the interview that the publisher was unhappy with Goop’s insistence on the magazine’s “contextual commerce” strategy, which was scrapped ahead of the appearance of the first edition of the magazine. For Paltrow, the magazine would have been a vehicle for sales, with integrated shopping features such as SMS purchase codes – a strategy that was vetoed by Condé.  

The move to expand the Goop fact-checking team will be a welcome step for customers in a consumer landscape dominated by increasing demands for transparency – even if it will be seen as long overdue by critics.

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