The National Science Foundation (NSF) gave a contract to the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) to do an analysis of Congressional websites; all 618 of them. Among the recipients of the Golden Mouse Award (warning: 115 page pdf), the highest available, the minority of the Senate Environmental & Public Works Committee. This is, to remind you, the site of Senator James Inhofe (R-Exxon) and his Global Warming denier / skeptic crowd who regularly peddle misleading and false material to the nation, using their taxpayer funded site.
So, why did these people fighting hard to endanger America’s future merit a “Golden Mouse”?
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works’ Minority Web site illustrates how committee sites can successfully provide timely and targeted information to its various audiences. The site is designed for ease of use. Press contact names, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses included in each press release make information readily available to one of the site’s key audiences: the press.
Yes, they are quite successful at moving information. They know how to time things and know how to get out to the media, ASAP, and into a right-wing skeptic echo chamber quickly.
Its design and layout facilitate the delivery of thorough and targeted information to citizens. A “Fact of the Day” section and blog posts give them updated content and help ensure repeat visits to the site. The content is also fully integrated and cross-referenced throughout the site. For instance, the issues section contains a brief statement by the Ranking Member, related press releases and speeches, as well as related facts of the day and blog posts. Providing a variety of content in a number of different ways ensures that users will find the information that interests them, regardless of where they look for it. The site’s legislative content has information specific to the committee’s work and jurisdiction, including information about its rules, history, hearing schedules, and nominations.
“Fact of the day”? Does it matter whether what Inhofe and his staff support provide is true and truthful or is truthiness perfectly appropriate for a site given an award? The site’s subtitle could appropriately be: “Facts aRen’t US!”.
In fact, truth, facts, quality of material have no relevance to CMF’s efforts. This is totally an examination, it seems, of form over substance. Does the site provide material that provokes traffic? And, is the site’s structure such that it provides stickiness (keeps people at the site) and repeat visitors? This, Inhofe certainly does success at: providing a rallying point for Global Warming deniers globally.
Two sides to a coin?
Now, perhaps CMF is seeking to foster the “there are two sides” (false) framing of Global Warming issues, another award recipient: The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. This is an exciting site, built on and disseminating facts. Guess its reliance on facts, rather than fantasy, might be the reason it merited only a Silver Mouse.
Hat tip to Rabett Run for catching / discussing the Inhofian award.