As someone who has done my share of writing over the years, both in this blog and in numerous other venues, it's time to assert my firm belief that, except in very limited circumstances, writing is not a team sport.
Those of us who put pen to paper (or strike keys on a board these days) are not like the Kentucky Wildcats or the Kansas Jayhawks, feeding off words and phrases to one another or throwing up lobs of ideas for others to dunk home.
Thus it never ceases to amaze me how those who control editorial pages are so often taken in by the idea that an article or op-ed piece is authored by two, three or even more people.
The most recent example of this nonsense (and it is in fact only one of several examples I've been collecting over the pass several weeks) is the piece entitled "Last week's House vote on redistricting was legal and proper" on page A7 of today's Union Leader; it also appears in today's Concord Monitor under the headline "Veto override was conducted properly" (always remember that editors write headlines, not reporters or writers, thus the difference in headlines). Credited for writing the piece are House Speaker William O'Brien, Speaker Pro Tem Gene Chandler, and Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt. Their titles are all spelled out in the footnote beneath the article.
Does anyone actually believe that the three of them sat down and decided, "Let's write this article together?" Perhaps the Speaker took paragraphs one through three and then handed it off to D.J. for the next three paragraphs or threw a pass downfield for Gene Chandler to add in a few clauses.
Of course not.
In fact, when you see an article with more than one name attached to it, you can assume that NONE of them wrote the piece. Most likely, it was ghost written. I'm not saying it's true in this case, but I've been privy to inside stuff on both sides of the aisle, and these multi-penned pieces are most often written by PAID STAFFERS. They are ghost written. In this case, the author could have been (and I'm not saying that it is) high paid House lawyer/lobbyist/gendarme Ed Mosca or perhaps redistricting guru staffer Aaron Goulet.
I know for a fact that when Sherm Packard was Republican leader and stuff would go out under his name or a team of names; neither he nor they ever wrote it. I know who did write most of it, but won't mention the name here. Back in my days as a Democrat, I ghost wrote a slew of stories which wound up under Ray Buckley's byline or some other party functionary.
The point I make is that you should never trust these op-ed pieces signed by numerous people. Powers that be seem to think that the more names they attach to an article, the more veracity it is entitled to.
The more names you see on an article, the more likely it is to be little more than a public relations piece, sent out to dup the unsuspecting public that a great deal of team thought went into it. Of course, the first people being duped are newspaper staffers.
They are complicit in the scheme of making it appear the article has more veracity than it really deserves when in point of fact, it is seldom worth reading at all.
I haven't read today's op-ed piece on redistricting. I'd be more likely to read it if Mosca or Goulet or the person who actually wrote it actually signed it. You can't make me believe that the trio of O'Brien/Chandler/Bettencourt wrote it. Perhaps one of them did; perhaps not. The three of them taking credit for it does little more than relegate it to the realm of anonymity.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not picking on these three. I saw a team of Democrats supposedly write an op-ed piece recently, and alarms immediately went off as to authenticity then.
It was at that time that I promised myself to make note of it the next time a team article was forthcoming.
About the only time that writing is a team sport is when two authors collaborate on an extensive project such as an in depth book on a political election. There were two such efforts on the 2008 elections, one of which, Game Change, was made into an HBO movie (which I saw and enjoyed this past weekend). One of the writers handles various phases of the campaign and writes about that while his colleague goes off to cover other phases. The late Bob Evans and his colleague Rowland Evans were excellent at this type of team writing, both for books and their columns, always reviewing each other's words.
I know Gene Chandler; I know Bill O'Brien; I know D.J. Bettencourt.
Trust me; they are no Novak and Evans.
They are most likely hiding behind a ghost writer.
Take note, whenever you see a team-written article, it's probably bogus. Rather than be duly impressed, you might consider passing it by altogether.
Evans and Novak were the exception. They wrote as a team. There are very few if any team writers penning op-ed pieces these days, no matter what editors try to foist upon an unsuspecting public.