In 1940, The Grapes of Wrath won a Pulitzer Prize in the Novel category, and Arthur Krock of the New York Times got one for Correspondence Journalism for his exclusive interview with the President of the United States. That year, however, recognition for excellence in the newest mass medium was not on the Pulitzer judges’ agenda. That medium was radio.
The George Foster Peabody Award, administered by UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, began as electronic media’s answer to the well-known Pulitzer Prize. Pulitzers “rejected the idea of including radio programming in awards as not quite worthy,” according to Master of Ceremonies Walter Cronkite in his opening remarks at the 61st Annual Peabody Awards show.
Frequently cited as the most prestigious, selective and coveted prize in its field, the Peabody Awards recognize distinguished achievement and meritorious public service by broadcast stations, networks, producing organizations and individuals. Today, the Peabody Award is the oldest honor of its kind and it continues to evolve to recognize excellence in broadcasting, cablecasting and webcasting.
Cronkite jested about the frequent comparisons between the two prestigious awards programs by adding, “Today we in the broadcasting industry rarely refer to the Peabody as broadcasting’s Pulitzer Prize. Oh no, it’s clear to us that the vaunted Pulitzers are simply the print’s Peabody.”
Regardless of the broadcast medium, the Peabody judges have only one criterion for which they judge: excellence.
The 63rd Annual Peabody Award Winners Announcement will be held at Georgia Public Broadcasting in Atlanta this Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. The live press conference can be seen on the Peabody Awards web site or on UGA’s Channel 15.