MEDIA CONTACT: Matthew Nehmer 

May 20, 2002

(202) 994-6467 




“Stop Dr. Laura” campaign takes home top prize at 8th Politics Online Conference


WASHINGTON – The Democracy Online Project of The George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management today announced the winners of the Golden Dot Awards for civic excellence in online issue advocacy.  The top honor this year went to, which accepted the award at the 8th Politics Online Conference in Washington, D.C., the nation’s premier event examining the intersection of politics and the Internet.

While received the overall distinction, award winners were selected in four categories for their exceptional use of the Internet for issue advocacy campaigns between January 1, 2000 and April 30, 2002. 

Ø      Public Support –

Ø      Interactivity – Geena Takes Aim:

Ø      Message – Covering The Uninsured:

Ø      Innovation – Oceana: 

“All of the winners announced today have successfully advanced the field of online politics through innovative online issue advocacy campaigns,” said Carol Darr, director of The Democracy Online Project. “We were pleased to have received so many qualified nominations this year, which is a testament to the Golden Dot Awards program and the growing impact of the Internet on issue advocacy.” started as a simple six-page Web site in March 2001, and has garnered more than 50 million hits and 3 million visitors during its brief existence.  To address the controversial comments made by high-profile personality Dr. Laura Schlessinger regarding homosexuals, the Web site was launched in an effort to persuade Paramount to drop its plans to give Schlessinger a TV show, and to make sure show advertisers were aware of the public outcry against Schlessinger’s comments.  In large part due to the activism sparked by the Web site, Paramount cancelled Dr. Laura’s television show less than one year after it started.

Accepting the award on behalf of was John Aravosis, president of the Internet consulting firm Wired Strategies and co-founder of “Stop Dr. Laura’s strength is that it melds online advocacy with offline grassroots,” said Aravosis. “We used the Web to cultivate field organizers around the country, who then tracked advertisers and held protests in 34 cities in the US and Canada – each action furthering the engine.”

Geena Takes Aim was the winner in the Interactivity category.  Geena Takes Aim encourages young girls and their parents to take action against gender inequity in sports, informing them of their rights under Title IX and other laws that prohibit sex discrimination.  The Web site offered three levels of information and guidance, including a section that allowed site visitors to grade their school on compliance with Title IX, a section for visitors to grade specific newspapers’ commitment to providing equitable coverage of male and female sports, and a third section providing information for interested parties to promote women’s athletics.

The winner for the Messaging category was Covering The Uninsured, which developed a Web site for its outreach campaign that seeks to make the uninsured a national priority and bring attention to the 39 million Americans with no health insurance.  To highlight the consequences of uninsured Americans, the site was established as a data-rich reference tool with detailed fact sheets on the number of uninsured, the challenges working individuals face to acquire insurance, personal stories of uninsured individuals, as well as an extensive database of charts on the issue. Covering The Uninsured is a national campaign of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and 12 major national organizations.

Oceana took home the prize in the Innovation category for their online efforts in spurring grassroots activism to enable and leverage the power of activists and local organizations. Oceana, an international advocacy organization created to protect the world’s oceans, developed html e-mails that enabled supporters to act right from the e-mail itself, leading to greater activist participation. Furthermore, Oceana better enabled local organizations to act by making video and still images available by category and region.

This year there were an unusual number of excellent nominees and finalists.   Among the finalists that did not win awards but which deserve note are Participate America, the National Rifle Association – Institute for Legislative Action, We Stand With Israel Now and Forever National Solidarity Rally, Rock the Vote’s Yes/No Online Campaign, and

The Golden Dot Awards are awarded at The George Washington University’s Politics Online Conference.  The judging panel consisted of journalists, academics, civic activists, and members of the golden dot Award Committee.  Additional information on the award winners and the Conference can be found at

The Democracy Online Project is a research, education and advocacy initiative that is funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by the Graduate School of Political Management of The George Washington University. Its mission is to foster the use of the Internet to improve political campaigns, and to increase citizens’ knowledge of, and participation in, American politics.

The Project documents and analyzes the evolving use of the Internet in politics; develops and advocates best practices in online campaign conduct; identifies and promotes awareness of critical public policy choices regarding the Internet, politics and democracy; and serves as an informational resource for candidates, political professionals and activists, journalists, scholars, and citizens.

-- GW --