Sunday, December 11, 2005

There's an interesting debate getting started on the ethics of ghostwriting, and I wanted to weigh in on it. As it turns out, the ethical question centers around Ryan Doll's Ames City Council campaign and Drew Miller.

It all started with this post on Drew's blog, where Drew provided a list of letters he had ghost-written for others to the Ames Trib and ISU Daily. He initially posted them with the name of the "sender" attached.

First and foremost, I'm not sure why anyone would ever do that (the posting, not the ghostwriting). I know Drew a little bit, and he doesn't seem like someone who needs the public pat on the back, but this SCREAMS "I wrote this stuff and didn't get credit, give me credit."

In the comments section, one of the "senders" of these letters called Drew out for posting his letter and publicly exposing the fact that it was ghostwritten, which feels like the right thing to do. Debate ensued in the comments, and I was going to let it pass, until...

This post at Drew's blog, which links to this article in the Ames Trib. If you're not going to go read the article, just read this quote from Drew:

"If there are words on the campaign that are not coming out of Ryan's mouth, usually I had something to do with it."

This is a related issue, ghostwriting for a candidate. I'd assume most people know that candidates don't write everything they say, don't proofread every brochure, and don't make every media decision. But when you step out from behind your candidate and say something that starts with "I'm the brains behind...", that's an ego problem and a body blow to your candidate. I won't say I've never ghostwritten a letter or given a candidate something to read, but I can honestly say I'll never come out in the press or this blog and tell you what material was taken from me. It's called being a team player.



Drew Miller said...

"had something to do with it" isn't the same as "I thought of and wrote all of it." I was trying to explain to Luke what a communication's director's job is, especially on such a small campaign.

As for the ghost-writing - I made a mistake, admitted it, and corrected it. Considering that I prefaced the post with the fact that it was basically self-promotion, you don't exactly have a major scoop here.

KL Snow said...

I guess neither issue by itself is a story, just the combination of both within 3 days.

And again, Drew, it's nothing personal, just activity on your part which I found somewhat puzzling.

Drew Miller said...

Well, since you know me it would be nice if you would talk to me before complaining about it in your blog. :-)

Anonymous said...

Actually, I think this is one of the better outcomes of the blogosphere - a return to true public discourse, not the manufactured B.S. of "official" campaigns and media relations.

Snow, I'm glad you brought this to your readers attention, and Drew, I'm glad you've responded.

The end of backroom politics begins with public transparency! Congrats to both of you for trying to harness the elephant in the room.