WASHINGTON, DC—Web White & Blue, the campaign to promote easy access to election-related information on the Internet, has demonstrated the public’s tremendous interest in using the Internet for election information and has in fact made that information easier to find, according to a survey of those using the site. Web White & Blue also has resulted in substantial increases in traffic at several of the election- related resources linked through the Web White & Blue site.
Close to 400,000 users have already logged on to Web White & Blue since it was launched October 7. The Web White & Blue awareness campaign is sponsored by the Markle Foundation and Harvard University’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and supported by hundreds of major industry and nonprofit Web sites. These sites have joined together in an unprecedented effort to donate prime “real estate” for placement of the Web White & Blue icon or banner ad to help Americans become better informed about politics.
In a voluntary survey answered by more than 500 visitors to the Web White & Blue site, the most striking preliminary findings are:
- 84 percent of survey respondents said 1998 is the first year they have used the Internet to get election information;
- 88 percent said that Web White & Blue was extremely or quite easy to use;
- 49 percent learned about Web White & Blue by seeing the icon or the banner ads displayed on leading Internet sites;
- 61 percent say they expect to use the Internet as their primary media source for election information in 2000.
“Web White & Blue makes democracy easier,” said Markle Foundation President Zoe Baird. “These findings indicate that the American public wants political information that is easy to use, and that the Internet can provide it. Efforts like Web White & Blue can transform citizen involvement in politics.”
There are now more than 1,200 sites displaying the Web White & Blue icon, up from 350 when the site was launched three weeks ago. The icon links directly to the Web White & Blue site, which in turn links to 45 Web sites that offer a range of election-related resources.
DemocracyNet, one of the resource sites whose access and visibility was significantly heightened through its link from Web White & Blue, registered a 1,200 percent increase in page views from October 1 to October 7 and continues to have a regular viewership that is 600 percent higher than it was prior to the launch of Web White & Blue. Minnesota E-Democracy reported a 300 percent increase during the same time period and has maintained double the viewership that it had prior to the Web White & Blue launch.
“Web White & Blue is fulfilling its promise to be a portal for democracy,” said Steve Case, chairman and CEO of America Online, which is hosting the site. “This unprecedented online initiative will have a major impact on shaping the way the public gets political information in 2000.”
Other compelling findings from the Web White & Blue user survey include:
- 80 percent of those who said television was their primary news source were especially impressed with the comprehensiveness of the Web White & Blue site.
Almost 90 percent of those users age 46 and over said they were getting election information from the Internet for the first time.
- 81 percent of the Web White & Blue users said they would recommend the site to a friend.
“Web White & Blue has clearly met a need among Internet users who wanted to know more about the upcoming election,” said Shorenstein Center Director Marvin Kalb. “We look forward to using what we’ve learned about educating voters online in 1998 to make the Internet an even more effective and interactive information tool in the presidential election in 2000.”
Web White & Blue links to election-related resources in the following categories:
- Voter Information – polling locations and youth resources
- Your State – government and non-profit election-oriented Web sites, by state
- Issues – comprehensive issue directories, candidate positions and public opinion poll results
- Campaigns – candidate directories and more
- Election News – national, regional and state news sites
- Participate – discussion about politics and election issues
On election night, November 3, Web White & Blue will offer Internet users a comprehensive directory of links to live election results compiled by state governments and national media organizations.
The John and Mary R. Markle Foundation is a private, not-for-profit grantmaking foundation that was incorporated in 1927 in the state of New York by John Markle and his wife, Mary R. Markle. The Foundation has assets of $180 million, and makes charitable contributions of approximately $9 million per year in the development and use of technologies of communication and information to enhance lifelong learning and promote an informed citizenry.
The Media and Political Participation program aims to study the democratic process and develop new practices for how media and technology can improve citizen participation in national politics. Currently, the Markle Foundation supports applied research on political campaigns and creates innovative experiments that use new media technologies to enhance political dialogue, deliberation and participation among citizens.
The Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy is a Harvard research center dedicated to exploring the intersection of press, politics and public policy in theory and practice. The Center strives to bridge the gap between journalists and scholars and, increasingly, between them and the public. Through teaching and research at the Kennedy School of Government and through its program of fellows and conferences, the Center is at the forefront of discussions in this area.
Established in 1986 with a generous gift from the Shorenstein Family, the Center has emerged as a major source for research on U.S. campaigns and elections, journalism and public policy, international news, and race, gender and the press. It is a widely respected convener of journalists, scholars and political activists working to help the press improve its role in democracy.”