Dianne Bystrom, Catt Center, (515) 294-3181
Steve Sullivan, News Service, (515) 294-3720


AMES, Iowa -- A national conference on political communication featuring some of the country's foremost political consultants, analysts, scholars, and journalists, is being co-sponsored by Iowa State University's Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics.

The four-day event, "Communicating Politics: Engaging the Public in Campaign 2000 and Beyond," will be at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on June 21-24.

Other co-sponsors are the National Communication Association and the Political Communication Center at the University of Oklahoma.

"The conference occurs at a time when voter participation in campaigns and elections is at its lowest point in American history and voter interest in the political process is declining dramatically," said Dianne Bystrom, director of the Catt Center. "The overall goal of the series of workshops and discussions is to devise new ways of engaging the voting public in our nation's political discourse. Participants will present and discuss practical ways of using different forms of communication to engage the public in the political process."

The conference will open with a reception at the U.S. Capitol hosted by Iowa Rep. Leonard Boswell, Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, Maryland Rep. Connie Morella and Oklahoma Rep. J. C. Watts.

Among those participating in the conference are Curtis Gans, director of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate; Robert D. Putnam, professor of public policy at Harvard University and author of the controversial study, "Bowling Alone;" Robert Shrum, media consultant for the Gore 2000 presidential campaign; Russ Schriefer, media consultant for the Bush for President Campaign; Brian P. Lamb, chairman of C-SPAN; Janet H. Brown, executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates; Ed Fouhy, executive director, Pew Center for the States; and James Gerstenzang, the Los Angeles Times' White House correspondent; and Julia Cohen, executive director, Youth Vote 2000.

Others who are participating include: Sander Vanocur, panelist and moderator for numerous presidential debates; Michael X. Delli Carpini, director of the Public Policy Program at the Pew Charitable Trusts; Max Fose, internet manager of the John McCain for president campaign; Celinda Lake, national pollster and president of Lake Snell Perry & Associates; Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins, president of the League of Women Voters; Ellen Shearer, Medill News Service; and many noted political science and communication scholars.

Bystrom will serve as the facilitator for a panel discussion on "Communicating Politics Beyond the 2000 Election: Diverse Messages to Diverse Constituencies," which will focus on strategies for getting women, minorities and youth involved in the political process.


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