Campus News

Fanning Institute tailors voting process for Peabody Awards

In selecting the winners of the 2015 Peabody Awards, the jurors used a new voting process, developed by the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, that helped keep the jury focused on the entries and streamlined the discussions.

Faculty members from Fanning tailored a group decision process for the Peabody jury’s final round of voting. Fanning’s new voting process combined facilitation techniques for discussions, a visual system to make it easier for jurors to track decisions and computer voting technology.

“The process went swimmingly,” said Jeffrey P. Jones, director of the Peabody Awards, which are based in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. “Fanning faculty, facilities and technology created the right conditions for healthy deliberation, which was quite noticeable by all of the board members.”

The Peabody Awards cast a wide net to honor the highest standards in media excellence. This year officials evaluated more than 1,200 entries in news, entertainment, documentaries, children’s programming, education, interactive programming and public service.

Screening committees whittled the entries down to about 350 to be considered by the Peabody jurors, a board comprised of former media industry executives, media critics and scholars. Winning a Peabody requires a unanimous vote and jurors said it had been difficult to reach consensus in past years.

“The streamlined procedure allowed us to spend more time on the heart of the process, debating pieces that were complex and required the entire group’s full input,” said Maureen Ryan, chief television critic for Variety, serving in her sixth and final year as a Peabody juror. “No group has been more careful and more meticulous than the Peabody jury.”

She said the new process helped the jurors use their time wisely and Fanning faculty helped clarify thinking during the deliberations.

Fanning Institute Director Matt Bishop said the experience was a good one for his faculty.

“We always appreciate working with different groups and learning more about how they operate,” Bishop said. “The Peabody’s are very prestigious and we were honored to be able to facilitate their selection process.”

“The deliberation and voting procedures we put in place with Fanning’s assistance was vitally important to our ability to structure how we could first arrive at 60 finalists, then pare that down to 30 winners,” Jones said. “We certainly plan to use Fanning’s assistance in the years to come.