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Class Web site tackles campaign finance reform
Compared to hot-button issues like crime and education, widespread abuse of campaign finance laws tends to go unnoticed.
Students in Interactive Media Studies (IMS) classes at Miami University are working to change that with a World Wide Web site devoted to campaign finance. The site, located at www.muohio.edu/~oxobjective, is based on the idea that education is the key to closing the legal loopholes that favor well-connected candidates. "We think people are scared by the complexity of campaign finance," says Dennis Walsh, associate professor of English and co-director of the IMS program. "The goal of this site is to explain campaign finance in clear, simple language in a manner that is as visually appealing as it is informative."
Most of the 22 students in IMS began the semester with little or no knowledge of campaign finance or Web page design. While learning HTML (the primary language used to code Web pages), the class researched specific areas of campaign finance, including the historical and legislative developments that define current election funding. Other areas of the site provide a detailed list of campaign finance definitions, an explanation of acceptable corporate and individual donations and an essay on the expanding role of the Internet in soliciting donations.
The result is a site without the "gimmicky bells and whistles" found on a lot of Web sites, Walsh says. IMS students developed 100 percent of the sites content and design. Future IMS classes will work on the site until the fall 2000 elections.
Additional IMS projects include an ongoing collaboration with Procter & Gambles Fem Care division and future projects with the Ohio Newspaper Association, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and a new e-commerce start up based in Cincinnatis Over The Rhine neighborhood.
IMS will become a concentration area for Miami journalism students beginning fall semester 2000. Devoted to more than churning out Web-savvy students, the IMS program offers a foundation for managing interactive divisions in news, marketing, graphic arts and other disciplines. Procter & Gamble, The Chicago Tribune and The Kettering Foundation are among the organizations providing financial support. For additional information, contact Walsh at (513) 529-5250 or email@example.com.