Among the many things we claim about media, it is, ultimately, a place for storytelling. Through electronic media, we recognize and engage each other with the stories we tell and the stories we attend to there. The Peabody Awards exist to recognize when storytelling is done well in electronic media; when stories there matter.
“The scope of the Peabody Awards continues to grow as media changes, but our goal remains the same: to recognize stories that matter.”
These are stories that engage viewers as citizens as well as consumers. By recognizing specific programming, the Peabody Awards spotlight instances of how electronic media can teach, expand our horizons, defend the public interest, or encourage empathy with others. Such excellent stories exist across genres and media types, and across regions and borders.
When the first set of Peabody Awards were given out in 1941, broadcasting meant radio. Before the decade was over, the scope of the award grew to include television storytelling. By the late 20th Century, television was redefined through cable and satellite technologies. The Peabody Awards again recognized shifts in storytelling as a result of these changes.
Early into the 21st century, we began to celebrate exemplary web content, which continues to open doors for new forms of storytelling. And now, with programming readily available for on-demand and online streaming through new platforms and exhibition spaces, what separates these spaces is less meaningful than the stories being told there. Throughout all this, the scope of the Peabody Awards continues to grow as media changes, but our goal remains the same: to recognize stories that matter.
Prof. of Comm. at the University of Pennsylvania, former President of the International Communication Assoc.
The Peabody Awards have maintained a high level of prestige and integrity for over 70 years. This is largely because the academic setting of the University of Georgia provides a healthy distance from the commercial interests of the media industry. Both the Director and Associate Director of the Peabody Awards are media studies professors at the University of Georgia, where the awards are housed. In addition to the concerns that would typically enter into consideration of a media award (production value, quality of the writing, originality, etc.) the Peabody judges must ask themselves: Does this story matter? Does it inform us as citizens? Does it help us empathize with one another?
Every year, over a thousand submissions—including TV shows, radio programs, and various types of web content—are reviewed first by 90 faculty, staff, and students judges at the University of Georgia. Their committees make recommendations to the Peabody Board who are responsible for selecting the final winners.
The Peabody Board is made up of a collection of scholars, media professionals, and journalists. This mix of top-level media professionals from a variety of backgrounds helps to ensure that winners appeal to a wide variety of viewers, rather than exclusively to media insiders. For a program to win, all 16 board member have to unanimously vote in favor of it receiving a Peabody.
Unlike many other high profile awards, there is no campaigning to win a Peabody. Entrants cannot buy out ad space in the trade papers in hopes of winning over judges. Once a program is submitted, it competes only on its merits. This levels the playing field and gives small, local broadcasts the opportunity to be recognized alongside programs with much larger budgets.
Origin of the Award
Realizing that there was no equivalent for the Pulitzer Prize in radio, the National Association of Broadcasters formed a committee to establish a prestigious award for excellence in broadcasting. The manager of WSB Radio in Atlanta Lambdin Kay asked John Drewry, the dean of Grady School of Journalism, to sponsor the award. They named the award for George Foster Peabody, a highly successful investment banker and recently deceased benefactor to the University of Georgia.
Since 1940 the Peabody award has steadily grown from being the “Pulitzer Prize for Radio” to recognizing excellence in a wide range of electronic media. In 1948 the Peabody Awards began recognizing television programs, and eventually cable TV was included beginning in 1981. By 2003, the first website had been included in the list of winners and 2012 saw the first Peabody Award given to a blog. From the first radio broadcast, electronic media has been constantly evolving. As the possibilities for storytelling multiply, the Peabody Awards will continue to draw attention to stories that matter in electronic media. We look toward the new forms of storytelling that will arise as we move deeper into the digital age.
Retired Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for the Coca-Cola Company
In a global career, Tom has led communications for two Fortune 100 companies and a major university. He has directed two consulting networks in Asia and China and has directly served four CEOs and a university president, while supporting four of the world’s most powerful brands.
The retired Senior Vice President and Director of Worldwide Public Affairs and Communications for the Coca-Cola Company, Tom also served as the Chairman of Edelman China, the Chief Communications Officer of Yale University, and the Corporate VP of Communications for EDS. In addition, he has held senior international positions at Ford Motor Company, Hill and Knowlton and IBM. In addition to the Peabody Awards, he serves on the boards of the Institute of Public Relations and the Girls Education Mission. He is a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, IABC Gold Quill and PRSA Bronze Anvil.
John Huey is the former Editor-in-Chief of Time, Inc., a position he held from 2006 until 2012. In that position he oversaw the publication of over 150 magazines, including Time, People, Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly, Fortune, Southern Living, Real Simple, Essence, InStyle, Money, and Golf and also oversaw the content for Time Warner’s websites. Before becoming Editor-in-Chief, he worked as the Editorial Director for Time, Inc. from 2001 to 2005. Before his editorial position at Time, Inc., Huey started working at Fortune magazine in 1988 and became the Managing Editor in 1995, leading the magazine to earn a spot on Advertising Age’s list of best magazines in 1999 and 2001. During his time at Fortune, he also was the founding editor of Southpoint Magazine (1989-1990).
John is a Georgia native and a UGA alumnus. After serving in the U.S. Navy as an intelligence officer, he began his journalism career first at the DeKalb New Era before moving on to the Atlanta Journal Constitution and then The Wall Street Journal. He worked as WSJ’s Atlanta bureau chief before moving to Brussels to work on launching the European edition of the paper, where he worked as the founding managing editor.
Huey is the winner of the Gerald Loeb Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism (2013), awarded by the UCLA Anderson School of Management. He is a Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Through his experience at Shorenstein, he became co-creator of Riptide, an Oral History of the epic collision between journalism and digital technology—a multimedia, archival website to be launched jointly by Shorenstein and Harvard’s Nieman Labs in September of 2013.
Fred Young is the former Senior Vice President of News at Hearst Television where he oversaw the Washington D.C. News Bureau as well as TV stations in 26 markets across 22 different states. Under Young’s leadership, the Hearst stations launched election-coverage initiatives that ended up earning Hearst a remarkable four consecutive Walter Cronkite Awards, the highest honor for TV coverage of politics.
Young was recognized by the Radio-Television News Directors Foundation with a First Amendment Service Award in 2002 and with the prestigious Paul White award in 2009. Young began his career with Hearst in 1962 working at WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh where he led the station to garner multiple local and national awards. He also served as the president of the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters. In addition to his work on the Peabody Board, he serves as a judge for the Hearst Journalism Awards for college journalism students and is a member of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.
Elizabeth Guider is the former editor of The Hollywood Reporter in Los Angeles and has written about entertainment and media subjects for a variety of publications for the last 20 years, from Rome, Paris and London as well as from New York and Los Angeles. She oversaw the newsroom at The Hollywood Reporter for three years as the magazine expanded into publishing a daily New York edition and also incorporated a weekly news analysis portion and opinion columns. Before joining THR in 2007, she held top management responsibilities at Daily Variety and Weekly Variety. In late 2010, Elizabeth left to work on a novel and to freelance, principally for the international media magazine World Screen News. She travels regularly to cover film and TV trade events, appears on industry panels, and belongs to leading entertainment organizations, including Women in Film and BAFTA. She holds a Ph.D. in Renaissance studies from New York University.
TV Critic for NPR, Guest Host for CNN's Reliable Sources
Eric Deggans is one of the most prominent media critics working today. As NPR’s first full-time TV critic, Eric’s stories are regularly broadcasted on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, along with an array of written contributions to NPR.org’s blogs. He came to NPR in September 2013 from the Tampa Bay Times newspaper in Florida, where he worked for nearly 20 years. In addition to his work in print and on radio, Deggans has guest hosted CNN’s Reliable Sources many times. His book Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation was published by Palgrave Macmillan in October 2012. He also contributed to the Poynter Institute’s The New Ethics of Journalism, published in August 2013. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times online, Salon magazine, CNN.com, the Washington Post, Village Voice, VIBE magazine, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Seattle Times, Emmy magazine, Newsmax magazine, Rolling Stone Online and a host of other newspapers across the country.
In 2013 Deggans was awarded Florida Press Club’s first-ever Diversity award, honoring his coverage of issues involving race and media. He received the Legacy award from the National Association of Black Journalists’ A&E Task Force, an honor bestowed to “seasoned A&E journalists who are at the top of their careers.” He has also received reporting and writing awards from the Society for Features Journalism, American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists, and the Florida Society of News Editors.
Prof. of Comm., Journalism, Cinematic Arts, and Education at USC
Henry Jenkins is one of the foremost writers and thinkers on new media. He received his PhD in Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After graduation, he was hired by the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) where he became the founder and co-Director of the Comparative Media Studies Masters Program. After twenty years at MIT, he moved to the University of Southern California where he is now the Provost's Professor of Communication, Journalism, Cinematic Arts, and Education. There, he has served as the Principal Investigator for the Media, Activism, and Participatory Politics Project (under funding from the MacArthur Foundation) and has overseen the work of the Participatory Learning and You! Project (with funding from the Gates Foundation), and served as the Chief Advisor to the Annenberg Innovation Lab.
Jenkins has published more than 15 books on various aspects of new media, popular culture, and public life, starting with Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture in 1992. His most recent books have included Reading in a Participatory Culture: Remixing Moby-Dick in the Literature Classroom (2013) and Spreadable Media: Creating Meaning and Value in a Networked Culture (2013). In addition to his academic publishing, he blogs regularly at henryjenkins.org, has had a regular column in Technology Review and Computer Games magazine, and has published in Harpers, Salon, Boom, The New York Times, Chronicle of Higher Learning, and Independent Schools, among many others.
Maureen Ryan is the television critic for The Huffington Post, and before that, she was the television critic for the Chicago Tribune. In 2007, Variety named her one of the six most influential critics in America and in 2011, she won the Los Angeles Press Club Award for Online Entertainment Critic of the Year. She has moderated panels at San Diego Comic-Con, at the Paley Center for the Media and at WorldCon, and she has served on juries for the American Film Institute’s Top 10 Shows of the Year and the New York Television Festival. She also has done commentary about television for NPR, CNN, MSNBC and other media outlets.
Prior to joining the Huffington Post in 2010, Ryan served as the television critic for the Chicago Tribune for seven years. Ryan worked for the Tribune for 13 years as a writer and editor for its arts and entertainment sections, and covered pop culture, the Internet, the media and music before focusing on television. Her previous TV site, The Watcher (chicagotribune.com/watcher) was nominated for an Editor and Publisher Espy Award as Best Entertainment Blog. She is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and received her Masters from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and son.
Marquita Pool-Eckert is an adjunct professor of broadcast journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, in New York. She is co-chair of The Friends of Education, an affiliate organization of the Museum of Modern Art. She has taught at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Hunter College, CUNY, since retiring in 2006 from her position as senior producer of CBS News Sunday Morning. During her 30-year career at CBS News, Pool-Eckert also worked as a producer for CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, covering events such as the 9/11 attack on The World Trade Center, Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in South Africa, and the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Pool-Eckert received her BA from Boston University and her MS from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Honors for her work include 12 national Emmys, a MUSE Award from New York Women in Film and Television, and Alumni of the Year Award from Columbia Univ. Graduate School of Journalism.
As VP, Film/TV Relations for BMI, Doreen Ringer Ross oversees all activity from the Los Angeles-based department serving film and television composers. Prior to BMI, Ringer Ross held artist development positions at A&M Records, ABC Records, and MCA Records, and also worked in television production as a producer for a wide array of television programs.
Ringer Ross works closely with BMI’s many celebrated film and television composers, including John Williams, Thomas Newman, Danny Elfman, Dave Grusin, Mike Post, W.G. “Snuffy” Walden, David Newman, Alan Silvestri, Mark Mothersbaugh, Charlie Fox, Lalo Schifrin, Richard Sherman, Alan Menken, Randy Edelman and many more. She is responsible for signing many other composers to BMI including Harry Gregson-Williams, Terence Blanchard, Rachel Portman, Graeme Revell, Christopher Young, David Arnold, Stewart Copeland, Mychael Danna, Jeff Danna, Rolfe Kent, George S. Clinton, Alexandre Desplat among many others.
Ringer Ross serves as the Vice Chair of the Board for Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation and on the Music Advisory Board member at UCLA. She also is on the Business Advisory Board of the Young Musicians Foundation, the Advisory Board of the American Youth Symphony, and the GRAMMY Museum Education Advisory Committee. She is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the Society of Composers and Lyricists, the National Academy of Songwriters, Women In Film, and AFI.
Executive Vice President and Head of Strategy for Weber Shandwick
Eddie Garrett is Executive Vice President, Head of Strategy of Weber Shandwick, a global public relations and consumer marketing firm based in Chicago. He is considered a pioneer in digital and new media as he worked to develop some of the earliest successful websites for major brands including the digital presence for the 1995 Peabody winning documentary, “Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream.” Since that time, he has served as the director of communications and new media for Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. and as Executive Vice President & Deputy General Manager at Edelman, where he provided senior counsel to Fortune 500 companies on building successful digital businesses and content across multiple platforms. Garrett, who holds a BS in communications and an MBA from the University of Georgia, was also a member of the CNN team that won a 2005 Peabody Award for coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.
Journalist who has worked for the New York Times, NPR, CNN and PBS, author, and 3-time Peabody Winner
Charlayne Hunter-Gault was one of the first two African-American students to enroll in the University of Georgia in 1961, and has had a reporting career spanning some of the world’s major news outlets, such as the New York Times, PBS, NPR, and CNN. Hunter-Gault graduated from UGA’s Grady School of Journalism in 1963 and took a job as a news anchor for WRC-TV in Washington D.C. She was then hired as a metropolitan reporter for the New York Times in 1968. From there, she went on to work at PBS News with The MacNeil/Lehrer Report in 1978 and eventually became PBS NewsHour’s national correspondent. She left PBS in 1997, taking a position as NPR’s chief Africa correspondent from 1997 to 1999, and was stationed out of Johannesburg, South Africa. Hunter-Gault then took the position as CNN’s Johannesburg bureau chief and correspondent from 1999 until 2005.
Hunter-Gault won two Emmy awards for her work on PBS NewsHour, and a Peabody Award for her contribution to the NewsHour series “Apartheid’s People.” In 1986, she was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists. She was also given the Sidney Hillman Award in 1990 as well as the American Women in Radio and Television Award. Hunter-Gault has also authored three books: In My Place (1992), which recounts her experiences at the University of Georgia, and To the Mountain Top: My Journey through the Civil Rights Movement (2012). She also wrote a book drawing from her experiences as a reporter in South Africa: New News Out of Africa (2006).
Director of the Sundance Institute’s Program for Native American Screenwriters, Directors and Producers
Bird Runningwater belongs to the Cheyenne and Mescalero Apache peoples, and was reared on the Mescalero Apache Reservation in New Mexico. Since 2001 he has guided the Sundance Institute’s investment in Native American Screenwriters, Directors and Producers while building a global Indigenous film community. He has nurtured a new generation of filmmakers whose films have put Native Cinema on the cultural map.
Before joining Sundance Institute, Runningwater was based in New York City and served as executive director of the Fund of the Four Directions, the private philanthropy of a Rockefeller family member. Prior to joining the Fund, Runningwater served as program associate in the Ford Foundation’s Media, Arts, and Culture Program. A recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation’s National Fellowship in Public Policy and International Affairs, Runningwater is also an alumnus of Americans for Indian Opportunity’s Ambassadors Program and the Kellogg Fellows Program. He is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with degrees in Journalism and Native American Studies, and he received his Master of Public Affairs degree from the University of Texas at Austin’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.
Senior Curator of Television for the British Film Institute
After working for 10 years for the BBC television archives, Steve was appointed the Senior Curator of Television for the British Film Institute in 1988. A strong advocate for preserving TV programs as part of our shared cultural heritage, Steve authored “The Television Heritage” in 1989, a publication which was instrumental in helping to bring about a statutory provision for preserving TV programs in the U.K.
As the Senior Curator of Television for BFI, he helped start a campaign called “Missing, Believed Wiped” which recovers TV and radio programs that have been believed to be lost. He also served as a member of the executive council of the International Federation of Television Archives for 20 years and spent 8 of those years as General Secretary. Bryant also started the IFTA’s Television Studies Seminar.
Dean of College of Media Arts and Design at Drexel University, former executive at Miramax, A&E, Showtime and NBC
After a show business career spanning three decades, Allen Sabinson became Dean of the Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design in 2005. The Westphal College offers sixteen award-winning and accredited undergraduate and six graduate degree programs. Before his academic career, Sabinson was formerly the president of production at Miramax Film, and held senior positions at A&E, TNT, ABC, ICM, NBC and Showtime. During his tenure as senior vice president of programming at A&E, the network received more Emmy nominations than any basic cable network for two consecutive years, and won Emmy awards for the best mini-series for Horatio Hornblower and best non-fiction series for Biography. Sabinson commissioned such films as Dash and Lilly, a biography of Dashiell Hammett, directed by Oscar winner Kathy Bates that starred Sam Shepard and Judy Davis, receiving eight Emmy nominations; and The Crossing, winner of the Peabody Award. He also initiated the network's first drama series, Sidney Lumet's 100 Centre Street, and Rex Stout's A Nero Wolfe Mystery.
While at TNT, he was responsible for the production of Gettysburg, which was released theatrically and sold more than one million copies in VHS & DVD releases. He also commissioned the Emmy-award winning mini-series The Old Testament. At ABC, Sabinson brought The Hallmark Hall of Fame franchise to the network with such films as My Name Is Bill W, and ABC's mini-series Separate but Equal won the Emmy for best mini-series. He also helped create the Stephen King franchise on ABC with the production of It and he commissioned the Peabody-award winning Small Sacrifices. As head of original programming at Showtime, Sabinson brought championship boxing to the pay cable network as well as It's Garry Shandling's Show.
Prof. of Comm. at the University of Pennsylvania, former President of the International Communication Assoc.
Barbie Zelizer is the Raymond Williams Professor of Communication and Director of the Scholars Program in Culture and Communication at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication. A former journalist, Zelizer is known for her work in the area of journalism, culture, memory and images, particularly in times of crisis. She has authored or edited thirteen books, including the award-winning volumes About To Die: How News Images Move the Public (Oxford, 2010) and Remembering to Forget: Holocaust Memory Through the Camera's Eye (Chicago, 1998), and over a hundred articles, book chapters and essays. Recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Freedom Forum Center Research Fellowship, a Fellowship from Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy, and a Fellowship from Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Zelizer is also a media critic, whose work has appeared in The Nation, PBS News Hour, The Huffington Post, Newsday, and other media organs. Coeditor of Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism, she is a recent President of the International Communication Association. Her work has been translated into French, Korean, Turkish, Romanian, Chinese, Italian, Spanish, Hebrew and Portuguese.
Dr. Nathaniel Kohn is the Associate Director of the George Foster Peabody Awards. He is a Professor in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Department of Telecommunications, Director of the UGA Cannes Film Festival Study Abroad Program, and Festival Director of Roger Ebert’s Film Festival. He produced the Academy Award nominated “Zulu Dawn” starring Burt Lancaster and Peter O’Toole; the independent feature “Somebodies,” which premiered in competition at Sundance (2006); “Rain,” the Bahamas’ first indigenous feature which premiered at Toronto and then played on Showtime (2010); the feature film “Bottleworld” (2010); and executive produced the BET television series “Somebodies” (2008). He is the author of “Pursuing Hollywood: Seduction, Obsession, Dread” (Alta Mira Press, 2006), and he has served as a judge at numerous international film festivals, including Hawaii, Bahamas, Kerala and Atlanta. He recently produced the feature length documentary “Bayou Maharajah: The Troubled Genius of James Booker” (2013).
Matt Shedd currently oversees management of the Peabody Awards website and blogs for the site as well. Before coming to work for the Peabody Awards, Matt worked as local public radio journalist, anchor and host for WUGA in Athens, GA, and as a reporter for KLCC in Eugene, OR--both NPR affiliates. He also hosted and created The Georgia Juke Joint, a documentary series on music in Georgia. He has also written for FLAGPOLE, the local alt-weekly in Athens, on arts and entertainment, health care, and local broadcasting. He has published pieces on Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan in online academic journals. He has also written extensively on American culture and roots music for NO DEPRESSION: The Roots Music Authority. He worked as a research assistant for Pulitzer Prize-winner Jack Miles, helping him compile materials and conduct research for the Norton Anthology of World Religions. He also helped annotate an academic volume Memoirs of Scandalous Women edited by Dianne Dugaw. He received his MA in English from the University of Oregon.
Noel Holston has been public relations coordinator of the Peabody Awards program at UGA since 2006. A native of Laurel, Mississippi, he earned a bachelor's degree in finance and an MBA before realizing that journalism, not banking, suited him better. At The Orlando Sentinel in the 1970s, he became a prize-winning feature writer and critic, focusing on television and popular culture. He subsequently served as the primary media critic for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and Newsday in New York. His reviews, columns and features have appeared in more than 100 newspapers, including The Washington Post, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, and in a variety of journals and magazines. He has won Florida Society of Newspaper Editors, George Polk, Loeb, Washington Monthly, Sigma Delta Chi and National Headliner awards for his reporting and commentary and is a four-time Pulitzer Prize nominee. He continues to write about popular culture when the spirit moves him. He lives in Athens with his wife and musical collaborator, singer-songwriter Marty Winkler.
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