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Times website wins Online News Assn.'s General Excellence award

The Los Angeles Times has called its headquarters, at the corner of 1st and Spring streets, home since 1935.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles Times was honored Saturday by the Online News Assn. for General Excellence, taking home the top award for large news websites.

The Times was also a finalist for the association’s Knight Foundation Award for Public Service for its series on Southland earthquake preparedness. The awards were presented in Chicago, bringing to a close ONA’s annual conference for digital journalists.

The Times relaunched its website in May after many months of planning and preparation.

“When we set out to reinvent latimes.com, our goal was to push boundaries and create a world-class news site to showcase our journalism,” said Los Angeles Times Editor Davan Maharaj. “It’s very gratifying to get this recognition from our peers.”

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The new site was designed to work equally well across devices, bringing the full depth of latimes.com to readers on desktop computers, mobile phones or tablets. Highlights of the new site include “sharelines” which encourage readers to share stories; neighborhood pages that organize news, food and other coverage by location; and bolder displays of photos and video sitewide.

Other large news sites named as finalists for General Excellence were NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.

Shortly after the new latimes.com was launched, noted media consultant and designer Mario Garcia wrote that the site was a “textbook case study of how the modern newspaper website should look.”

“All good editorial design emphasizes appropriateness, a point of view (attitude?), and that instant moment where we associate the look and feel with the product. The new latimes.com excels in all three.”

ONA officials judged the submission based on “quality of journalism, use of social tools, creative use of the medium and platform, user interface and interactivity.” The award, supported by the Gannett Foundation, includes a $5,000 prize.

Rong-Gong Lin II, Rosanna Xia and Doug Smith were finalists for ONA’s Knight Foundation Award for Public Service for a series that jolted readers and government officials out of the denial that is often a part of living in earthquake country.

The reporters’ articles and interactive presentations examined two major earthquake risks: brittle concrete buildings and huge holes in oversight of construction on seismic faults. In both cases, The Times stepped in where government officials for years had failed to act.

Reporters walked the boulevards of downtown L.A., Hollywood, Westwood and Sherman Oaks to conduct a detailed census of at-risk buildings. They went through century-old building records looking for clues. They painstakingly followed the paths of fault lines. And back in the office, data visualization experts and programmers were creating stunning -- and terrifying -- interactive features, such as a flyover of a Hollywood fault, to drive the message home and clarify complex topics.

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The Miami Herald won the Public Service award for an investigation called Innocents Lost.

Read the full list of the Online Journalism Awards winners and finalists.


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