A Short History of The New York Times’ Peabody Awards
Wes Unruh - 9/15/2014
While the Peabody Awards are most often thought of as radio or television awards, the real heart of the Peabody Awards is to highlight excellence in electronic media. Since Transom.org won the first Peabody for its website in 2003, a number of awards have gone to websites or web-based content.
Other Peabody Awards have gone to print publications in the past, or have been awarded jointly to several organizations for a particular show or broadcast. In 2003, the same year that Transom.org won an award for its online content, Frontline won an award for the episode A Dangerous Business, which was a WGBH-TV coproduction with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and The New York Times.
Nor was this the first or the last Peabody that the New York Times can claim.
The first Peabody Award that cites The New York Times was awarded to WQXR, a radio station established in 1936 and acquired by the Times in 1944. The 1951 Peabody was presented for the radio program New York Times Youth Forum, described by the Peabody board as featuring “unrehearsed discussion by students selected from private, public and parochial schools, on topics ranging from the political, educational and scientific to the international and the United Nations.”
Several years later, Jack Gould joined a select group of television and radio critics to be honored by the Peabody board. He won a 1956 Personal Peabody Award for his contributions to radio and television as the chief media critic at The New York Times. While not a win for the New York Times directly, it was a special honor for the newspaper to be home to an award-winning critic.
Over 50 years passed from that first radio Peabody in 1951 before the New York Times was the sole recipient of a Peabody again. When the NYTimes.com website was honored with a Peabody Award in 2008, the Peabody board lauded “the Times’ embrace and mastery of new possibilities” in the world of online journalism. Particular notice was paid to the full transcripts of candidate’s speeches in the 2008 election cycle, among other online stories.
Similarly, it was the innovative use of online content that attracted the interest of the Peabody board again with the 2013 web special A Short History of the Highrise. An interactive documentary jointly produced by The National Film Board of Canada and NYTimes.com, this special explored the past 2,500 years of “vertical living,” bringing history and architecture to life in a way that is only possible online.
You can take a closer look at this most recent of Peabody Award-winning content from the New York Times in the trailer below: