It’s all in how you frame it. Much like the “Fox News is the devil” BS that has circulated the past few weeks, the “Dennis Nolan doesn’t get it” BS has framed the issue of an us against them standoff. That’s just stupid.
Traditional news has long focused on the two sides of stories — one side says this, the other says this. In both of these cases, that’s the wrong frame to use. I’ll touch real briefly on Fox. When people came out against the Democrats using Fox to broadcast a debate, they immediately framed the issue as “Fox will hurt us, therefore it must be defeated.” News outlets editorialized and party officials stated that there was more to the story than that. Instead of focusing on taking Fox down, the focus should have been on how to best leverage that situation to make the overall result one that couldn’t be reached otherwise.
Enter the right’s villian: Dennis Nolan. Nolan had the gall to say what was on his mind when asked about Chuck Muth’s assertion that voters approve tax increases (I won’t bring this topic up in this post, but I’d be happy to offer my thoughts on this if you care). Nolan’s response was that while the legislators are working in Carson City, they don’t really have the time to give a crap about Chuck. I agree with him totally on one thing: I don’t give a crap about Chuck, either. All fun aside, Nolan has a point.
I spoke to Dennis last night at a party he threw for a few people. One of the guests was a friend I’ve had for a long time and happened to talk to about the dustup two days ago. He asked me if I’d like to meet Dennis, so I said I would. At 8:00 last night, I was introduced to Dennis Nolan.
His first point he made to me is that he really doesn’t know how to talk to or respond to bloggers. My response was that he should treat us like he would anyone who covers the legislature. After about two hours of talking in small doses (it was his party and he’s the senator) we finally hit the point. I asked him how he treats reporters down in Carson City. He told me that he talks to them if they approach and if they take what he says out of context or they lie about him, he stops talking to them. Well, that’s pretty fair. And it gets me thinking.
I told Dennis that he should treat bloggers the same way. If we tak to him and want to know things, answer questions. If we lie and take things out of context, blow us off. If we’re not even going to try to talk to him before throwing our opinion on a sentence or two run in a newspaper, it’s really his call. And I can’t blame the guy for not wanting to talk to bloggers when his entire experience with them is ridiculous muscle-flexing and starting a war on the Internet.
Had the issue not immediately been framed as Dennis Nolan vs. bloggers, we could be well on our way to a constructive solution and moving in the right direction. Nolan said most of the legislators don’t have the time. I know a few do, but I tend to believe what he said. Why couldn’t bloggers approach his comments with an attitude of how we might help the legislators understand us? Why not help them realize we just want the same courtesy they afford to reporters? If you don’t, then don’t bitch when they don’t care. If you’re a blogger because you “want to make a difference” or some other altruistic reason, then you should realize that making a difference isn’t just telling people what you think. It’s work. Pick up the phone, tell them who you are, and go from there. But stop acting like this is some power game in which you deserve respect that nobody knows you deserve.