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Bentley College Expert Available For Political Campaign Web Sites

October 22, 2002

WALTHAM, Mass.- With election season in full swing, Christine B. Williams, professor of Government at Bentley College, is available as an expert resource on the use of political campaign web sites. Williams is currently studying the 2002 elections, and her analyses include the Massachusetts and New Hampshire gubernatorial candidates' web sites as well as all U.S. Senate candidates' (major and minor party) web sites.

In the areas of design, navigation and interactive elements, Williams has found that the Massachusetts and New Hampshire gubernatorial candidate web sites are not using the full potential of the medium.

"In terms of content, the sites provide extensive information- especially on issues, but not so much in the way of explicit attempts at political persuasion, and much less than they could in voter services," says Williams. "Web sites are generally very attentive to campaign purposes."

Williams' current research follows a recent study, "The 2000 e-Campaign for Senate," she coauthored with Bentley Associate Professor of Marketing Andrew Aylesworth and former colleague Kenneth J. Chapman, now at California State University, Chico. The study, selected for publication in the Fall 2002 issue of the Journal of Political Marketing, examines the marriage of politics and marketing to computer technology, and determines that the web sites for U.S. Senate candidates have tremendous potential but to date fail to actively engage the mass public.

"The web is fundamentally changing political communication," adds Williams. "As someone trained in democratic theory, I'm interested in whether the web is improving public debate, the political process and creating better campaigns. At their best, the campaign web sites should educate and mobilize the electorate, and improve public debate and civic discourse."

Williams's 2002 research- which includes electronic surveys of webmasters and tracking studies of viewing behaviors - is supported by a grant from the Joan Shorenstein Center of the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Additional information can be found at:

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