A cherished prize

For 76 years, the Peabody Awards program, based in the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, has been committed to recognizing the best storytelling in broadcasting and electronic media. On May 20, members of the UGA community will join media industry professionals-from actors and showrunners to reporters and documentarians-to celebrate the latest winners of this highly coveted prize at its annual gala in New York City. Rashida Jones, a cast member of Peabody Award-winning “Parks and Recreation,” will serve as host of the event on Saturday at Cipriani Wall Street.

This year marks the first time a television special of the Peabody Awards Ceremony will air on both a national network, PBS, and the cable network FUSION on Friday, June 2, at 9 p.m. EDT/PDT.

“We are proud to join forces with PBS and FUSION in honoring the year’s best stories in television, radio, podcasts and digital narratives,” Peabody Awards Director Jeffrey P. Jones said. “Today more than ever, Peabody’s mission to highlight the most compelling and empowering stories and their impact on society is vital to public discourse. Broadcasting our awards ceremony to the loyal viewers of PBS and on FUSION’s burgeoning network is a wonderful way to showcase Stories That Matter.”

Actress, producer and screenwriter Rashida Jones will serve as host of the Peabody Awards ceremony Saturday at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City.Actress, producer and screenwriter Rashida Jones will serve as host of the Peabody Awards ceremony Saturday at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City.

Each year, the Peabody Board of Jurors selects 30 winners from 1,200 submissions by unanimous vote, with an emphasis on focusing on Stories That Matter to society. Peabody Award winners represent narratives from an array of genres, platforms and geographical borders that become part of a canon of the greatest electronic media ever produced, which is housed in UGA’s special collections libraries.

Showcasing diversity in media programming has become a hallmark of the Peabody Awards and this year is no exception. Twenty-five percent of this year’s winners represent African-American and Latino voices, faces and concerns. Additionally, women directed seven out of the 12 documentaries being recognized this year and four out of the seven entertainment winners have strong female leading characters. These numbers are a result of a Peabody Awards judging process that comprises diverse jurors working outside the structures and pressures that often hamper critical recognition for diverse programming in the media and entertainment industries. 

UGA students also have a hand in highlighting outstanding programming, specifically as judges for the Peabody-Facebook Futures of Media Awards, which recognize compelling storytelling that uses innovative technology in the digital landscape. Students from across UGA schools and colleges enroll in a course through the Grady College that culminates in the selection of the awards. This year’s six winners use 3-D modeling, virtual reality, interactive websites and video games to address stories covering a range of issues, from sexual abuse and childhood cancer to torture and transgender dating and identity.

Peabody-Facebook Futures of Media winners will be celebrated at a luncheon on Friday, May 19, in New York City. Campbell Brown, head of news partnerships at Facebook, will serve as host for the event. 

But Peabody is more than just a once-a-year awards ceremony. With the relaunch of the Peabody Media Center last fall, the scholarly research and media production arm of the program is poised to expand its reach and provide additional opportunities for engagement. Six internationally renowned media scholars comprise the inaugural class of Peabody Fellows, who with Peabody staff work on writing and digital productions that provide context, connections and further exposition around what makes Peabody Award-winning programming significant and impactful to the broader social conversation.

For more information, visit peabodyawards.com.