Five TownNews.com hosted newspapers were recognized for their websites at the Illinois Press Association’s (IPA) joint meeting with the Illinois Associated Press Editors Association (IAPEA) held in Springfield, IL on April 30.

IAPEA News and Photo Contest

The Southern Illinoisan, a Lee Enterprises subsidiary in Carbondale, received second place in the category of Best Newspaper Website for www.thesouthern.com.

According to IAPEA’s contest rules, judging was based on “local appeal including breadth of coverage... timeliness in a 24/7 environment... interactivity... multimedia presentation, overall quality, usefulness of design and ease of navigation.”

“The latest version of www.thesouthern.com is about two things – accessibility and versatility. Like many newspaper websites, it operates as a 24/7 news and information machine, updating with local, state, regional and world news every hour of every day,” said Bob Williams, publisher for The Southern. “The site also offers special, exclusive online content, such as our page dedicated to the one year anniversary of a devastating storm in the area. The page presents an interactive map, user submitted stories, photos and videos that chronicle the event and the aftermath of the storm. It gives users the content they want on their terms, whether it’s our full website generating nearly two million pages views each month or our mobile news site, which has jumped in popularity in recent months. Our photo galleries, updated daily, allow people to view and purchase their favorite photos from the print edition and extras that only appear online. We update our multimedia section with three to five videos or slideshows per week, but the video feed is always alive with extra content from the Associated Press.”

IPA’s Excellence in News Contest

Over 100 newspapers competed in 36 editorial categories this year. According to contest rules, judging for these Best Newspaper Site winners was based on “the complete website (including blogs, slideshows, audio/visual/podcasts, e-mail alerts, etc.) as well as how you use the print product to drive people to the website.”

The Journal News, an independent publication in Hillsboro, received honorable mention for www.thejournal-news.net in Division B: Non-dailies 3,001 - 10,000.

“The website for The Journal-News in Hillsboro, IL, has developed into more than just an Internet version of our newspaper. The website, located at www.thejournal-news.net, still has select stories and information from the print edition, but has also allowed us to keep our readers up to date with the things that happen between publishings on Monday and Thursday,” said John Galer, publisher for The Journal News. “The website has also allowed our readers to have their voices heard, whether it be by commenting on the website or by submitting a letter to the editor.”

Times-Republic, a Community Media Group publication in Watseka, received second place for www.watsekatimesrepublic.com in Division D: Dailies 1 - 10,000.

"Our website provides our readers with a wealth of local information and advertising,” said Carla A.Waters, managing editor for the Times-Republic. “The site not only gives the latest stories and photos, but also provides them with a variety of other activities. There are local videos, local photo galleries for them to browse through, and a shutterbug contest, which allows them to vote for their favorite picture. Readers can comment on specific stories through the website. They also can get the latest obituaries, police log and other vital information from Iroquois County. The site allows them to peruse through the classified advertising. It also links them to our sister newspapers.”

Herald & Review, a Lee Enterprises subsidiary in Decatur, received honorable mention for www.herald-review.com in Division E: Dailies 10,001 - 40,000.

“We’ve heard many compliments on our site since our switch to the new CMS in 2009,” said Dave Dawson, managing editor for the Herald & Review. “People have told us that it is easy to use and navigate. With the new system (BLOX CMS), we have been better able to update the site on a 24-hour cycle.

“Our web team of Bridget Sibthorp-Moecker, Adam Casner, Hugh Sullivan, Tim Cain, Gary Sawyer and myself have worked together to improve the site and coordinate updates throughout the day. Buy in from the entire newsroom has helped make the web team’s job much easier.”

The Pantagraph, a Lee Enterprises subsidiary in Bloomington, received honorable mention for www.pantagraph.com in Division F: Dailies 40,001+.

“Pantagraph.com is the premier media website in its market, with more than 6.5 million page views and 450,000 unique visitors per month,” said Jamahl Epsicokhan, online editor and webmaster for the Pantagraph. “It is a high-quality site with robust content and a clean design, featuring breaking online news and sports content, entertainment, classifieds, video, blogs, RSS feeds, a mobile edition, Twitter feeds, interactive reader comments, databases, and more...What has always driven Pantagraph.com’s success is news content, plain and simple. Pantagraph.com’s commitment to local breaking news has been instrumental in its growth over the years and is what keeps its users coming back for more. In its market, no one covers local breaking news in the depth that Pantagraph.com does – as the news happens. The site also aims to be a “one-stop shop” for news by supplying its readers with up-to-the-minute national and world news stories from AP. And reader comments make all the news content interactive, allowing the readers to have their say on the issues they find compelling.”