Honoring true and powerful narratives
Margaret Blanchard - 1/19/2018
Peabody Awards are considered the preeminent honor in electronic media—recognizing the best stories of a given year that exemplify both journalistic integrity and a keen understanding of the craft of storytelling.
From local investigative reporting to big Hollywood productions and one-off public service announcements, Peabody Awards are given to programming deemed significant not only for masterful narratives, but to those stories that make an impact as well.
“We feel that if the story matters to us as citizens, then it will receive a Peabody Award,” according to Jeffrey P. Jones, executive director. “For us, it’s to recognize that media can be an important voice, and shape who and what we are, if we pay attention to the best that media have to offer.”
The awards program is notable for its rigorous voting process. Approximately 1,200 entries are submitted according to category (i.e., news, entertainment, documentary, children’s programming, and public service). Once processed, a screening committee of media experts from across the country culls through and selects the best of the best, whittling the field to 300-400 submissions. These are passed on to the Peabody Board of Jurors, where the real test begins.
As three-time award winner and former juror Charlayne Hunter-Gault explained in a 2016 University of Georgia alumni magazine article, it’s a “tough” process. “After I became a judge I wondered, ‘How did I ever get a Peabody?,’” she joked.
However, Hunter-Gault also noted that the required unanimous vote for nominees and winners keeps things in check. “It’s such an amazing thing when we get to that final vote and we have unanimity. That says a lot to me about collegiality and respect for different points of view and the kind of history Peabody has,” she said.
With that legacy comes the prestige of being in the same class of renowned journalists, entertainers, and documentarians who set the standard for excellence. As filmmaker Ava DuVernay said upon receiving a Peabody Award for “13th” last year: “I’ve had the good fortune of having my work nominated for a Grammy, a Golden Globe, and an Oscar, but I cried when I heard about this.”
The Peabody Awards will again make history when the best stories of 2017 are announced in early April. Stay tuned!