When it comes to getting your local news, sports or entertainment online, the Lawrence Journal-World's Web sites are the best in the country, according to the Newspaper Association of America.
At its annual meeting Sunday in Dallas, the NAA awarded three Digital Edge Awards to the Journal-World for its news and sports sites at LJWorld.com and its entertainment home page at lawrence.com. The J-W tied for the most "Edgies" won by any single newspaper.
The LJWorld.com sites competed with newspaper Web sites around the country in the 75,000 circulation range and below.
The World Company, which owns the J-W, Sunflower Broadband and World Online in Lawrence, also won an Edgie for best real estate site in the country for SteamboatHomefinder.com, in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
"With all of the hard work and creative juices that have been poured into these sites, we're super excited and honored to be able to bring these awards back to our hometown," said Rob Curley, the J-W's director of New Media.
"But I've got to be honest, as much fun as this is, we'd trade all of these glass trophies in a second for a national basketball championship," Curley said. "At heart, we're just giant Jayhawk nuts, and I think that's part of the reason why sites like KUsports.com get so much national attention -- KUsports.com was built by Jayhawks for Jayhawks. There's a difference between building a site and building a site that you know is going to be your own personal homepage."
Dan Simons, president of the J-W's Electronic Division, said, "I think it just shows the quality of our people and the outstanding talent that the people here at World Online have."
Simons said the Web sites showed the enthusiasm the journalists, Web developers and programmers have for their subject matter.
"They're also the world's biggest users and fans of what they're doing. They build things they know that people like them would love," Simons said.
Curley also praised the company's journalists and Web developers.
"Not only do we have a great reporters who aren't afraid of embracing multimedia and new platforms for storytelling, we have some amazingly talented online folks who produce some of the most whiz-bang stuff I've ever seen on the Internet," Curley said.
In naming LJWorld.com "Best Overall News Site," the NAA judges said, "LJWorld.com is relentless in its pursuit of new methods to inform and engage its audience.
"The Journal-World's highly converged newsroom inspires a culture of multilayered storytelling -- online-exclusive video and audio, Flash animations and audience-controlled 360-degree panoramic images -- and exceptional database-driven features. Visitors participate in live chats and post comments about the major issues of the day."
Lawrence.com won an Edgie for "Best Home Page User Experience." The NAA judges called lawrence.com "Vibrant! Bold! Edgy!" They also touted the site's powerful search engine that helps visitors quickly locate articles, concert listings, venue and restaurant information.
"Style and functionality rule on lawrence.com," the judges wrote.
The J-W also won for "Best Sports Site" for its LJWorld.com/sports site, for a mix that includes KUsports.com, a new high school sports site and its "Game" site that features local youth baseball and softball.
The judges said LJWorld.com/sports "continues to exhilarate local sports fans with scorecards of local high school player statistics, video highlights, e-mail and cell phone alerts, and even a blog about local recreation-league youth baseball and softball teams."
Curley said Lawrence had the "perfect recipe" for building great Web sites: "A city with overkill character and tons of high-speed Internet access."
"Building Web sites in Lawrence is a little like winning the lottery when you're a computer geek," Curley said "You can build wild things with all sorts of new technologies and ideas, and this community will not only use them, but embrace them."
This is the third year in a row that the J-W has done well in the Edgie awards. In 2003, KUSports.com was named as best sports site in the country. In 2004, lawrence.com was named best entertainment site in the country.
Other newspapers winning Edgies this year included The New York Times, Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, Boston Globe, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Denver Post, Chicago Tribune, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer.