WASHINGTON (07/10/2000) - The white paint is brilliant under intense sunshine, the sky is azure and the trees a lush green. It's a picture-perfect summer day at the White House's new Web site.
Banished is the bland beige and the bank of buttons that dominated www. whitehouse.gov. In their place is a virtual postcard proclaiming "Welcome to the White House."
The new site, which debuted July 7, provides the president with a prominent forum for promoting his policies. In bold type at the center of the home page, just beneath the picture of the White House, is a statement by President Clinton and Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan blasting the Republicans' Patients' Bill of Rights.
Beneath that is a blurb crediting President Clinton and Vice President Gore with improving citizen access to government through the new Web site.
Turning the White House Web site into a public relations platform could be a bad thing, said Pam Fielding, a principal at e-advocates, a cyber lobbying and Web site design company. "We have a pretty high standard for what we want "dot-gov' sites to be. We want them to be as pure as the public library," she said.
But she added, "I applaud them for making it more interesting for site visitors."
President Clinton seems to agree that the chief job of the Internet should be to help citizens connect to government. "As one of the most popular Web sites on the Internet, "Welcome to the White House' provides its millions of visitors with an array of useful information," he said in a statement announcing the new site.
Indeed, a feature called "Gateway to Government" leads to a Web page full of links to government information and services.