Futures of Media Awards Announced for 2016
Written by Margaret Blanchard - 5/1/2017
The Peabody Media Center and the University of Georgia have named six winners of this year’s Peabody-Facebook Futures of Media Awards for outstanding digital storytelling released in 2016. The programs use 3-D modeling, virtual reality, interactive websites, and video games to address stories covering a range of issues, from torture in prison and childhood cancer to transgender dating and identity.
In its second year, the award is the result of a partnership between Peabody and Facebook. The award is given to outstanding stories in digital spaces as judged by a group of 16 Peabody honor student fellows, under the guidance of the Peabody Awards program, based at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.
“This year’s winners push the boundaries of how digital storytelling can be done in extremely compelling and innovative ways,” said Jeffrey Jones, director of the Peabody Awards and Peabody Media Center. “It is exciting to see the new possibilities for bringing meaningful stories to light through the ever-changing affordances of digital technologies, and we are happy to recognize what we see as the best stories being told on these platforms.”
The winners will be celebrated at a luncheon on May 19 at Hotel Eventi in New York City. Campbell Brown, head of news partnerships at Facebook, will serve as host for the event, which will be streamed via Facebook Live.
Brown has nearly 20 years of experience in journalism, most recently as an award-winning anchor and correspondent for NBC News and CNN. At CNN, she anchored a weekday primetime news program from 2007-2010 focusing on politics. During her 11-year tenure with NBC, she co-anchored the weekend edition of “TODAY” from 2003-2007 and served as White House correspondent during President George W. Bush’s first term.
The 2016 Peabody-Facebook Futures of Media Awards are (in alpha order by category):
“Doctors and Sex Abuse” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Doctors & Sex Abuse merges old-line sleuthing with data journalism and multimedia storytelling for a damning report on how doctors who have sexually violated patients are often given a pass by the very boards and agencies charged with regulating them. The series, prompted by an investigation of orders of the Georgia Composite Medical Board by reporter Danny Robbins, found that a surprising number of doctors in the state who had sexually violated patients were allowed to continue practicing. The newspaper widened the scope of its investigation—hiring a legal researcher and developing a computer program to explore the issue nationwide—in the end discovering that offenses are often kept off the record and disciplinary actions hidden from the public. Through multimedia storytelling, vivid illustrations, and an intuitive interface, this extensive report offers a new standard for investigative journalism as the field increasingly shifts to digital spaces.
“Saydnaya” (Amnesty International and Forensic Architecture)
Through architectural and acoustic modeling, co-creators Amnesty International and Forensic Architecture provide an unprecedented look deep within an infamous torture prison in northern Syria. Saydnaya: Inside a Syrian Torture Prison recreates the interior of the prison from memories of past detainees, despite the sensory deprivation experienced within, using 3-D modeling and 360-viewing combined with personal interviews and audio recordings. With background information on the prison and more broadly, detention in Syria, this interactive documentary serves as a call to action and engages the public to work toward ending such brutal human rights abuses.
“Phallaina” (Small Bang Studio, France Télévisions Nouvelles Ecritures, and Oikos Agency with the participation of the CNC: Centre National du Cinéma et de l’image animée)
Phallaina is a graphic novel designed to be a mobile experience from the ground up. In an increasingly paperless world, Phallaina shows how one of print’s most cherished art forms can transfer seamlessly into the digital space. Through use of parallax scrolling, mind-bending panel transitions, and innovative sound design, Phallaina concocts one of the most unique and cerebral digital stories of the year, tying in themes such as mythology, friendship, and mental health.
“That Dragon, Cancer” (Numinous Games)
A video game that challenges our expectations of the medium, That Dragon, Cancer documents the true story of 4-year-old Joel Green’s lifelong battle with cancer in a beautifully poetic gameplay environment. Players take on the roles of parents Amy and Ryan Green as they face increasingly emotional challenges throughout Joel’s short life, utilizing archival voice recordings and interactive exploration to guide players through artful reinterpretations of real events. A beautiful lesson in empathy and strength, That Dragon, Cancer creates a stylized and abstract world, yet ultimately remains grounded in the powers of faith and love.
“Pearl” (Google Spotlight Stories with Evil Eye Pictures)
Set entirely inside their car, Pearl is the heartwarming story of a father-daughter duo chasing their dreams as both grow older. Its innovative 360-degree format fully immerses viewers in this animated story while allowing for extraordinary detail that warrants multiple views. Pearl‘s overarching messages on the beauty of what we pass down to others and life’s little moments are almost as sweet as the film’s earworm of a song.
“Her Story” (Speed of Joy)
With a narrative weight expected from a much lengthier format, the web series Her Story is an illuminating exploration of transgender identity with a total run time under 60 minutes. The show’s six episodes follow two trans women as they navigate relationships in Los Angeles, revealing complex characters defined by much more than their trans status. The characters seemingly achieve their authentic selves—as bartenders, lawyers, friends, partners—and as humans struggling, growing and searching for love. With the power to shift perspectives and reframe the conversation about transgenderism, Her Story is in the vanguard for trans representation through a media platform that easily allows for the continued creation of such original stories.
About Peabody-Facebook Futures of Media Awards
The Peabody-Facebook Futures of Media Awards honor groundbreaking digital narratives and the technologies used to tell these stories. With a spirit of innovation at the core of both Peabody and Facebook, the organizations came together in 2015 to celebrate the most powerful narratives in an ever-changing digital landscape. Honorees are selected by the Peabody Student Honor Board and are deemed to have told a story that matters: a story that inspires empathy around the human condition, shapes our understanding of the world, transforms how we address important societal issues, and takes a chance with what it’s saying and how it’s told.