Peabody Student Honor Board gives students unique experience

The inaugural "Peabody Facebook Futures of Media" awards were presented May 20, 2016, at the Paley Center. The awards, chosen by the Peabody Student Honor Board, recognized excellence in digital media storytelling. (Photo/Sarah E. Freeman/Grady College, freemans@uga.edu in New York City, Georgia, on Friday, May 20, 2016)
Spring 2016 Peabody Student Honor Board members Leighton Rowell (center) and Kara Wexler (ABJ ’16), talk with Futures of Media winner Lillian LaSalle after last year’s Futures of Media ceremony.

Where else other than Grady College and the University of Georgia can students work closely on an internationally-respected awards program that is nationally broadcast on television?

Now in its third year, the Peabody Student Honor Board allows UGA students the opportunity to be involved with the Peabody Awards. The students serve as production assistants for the awards ceremony in New York, as ambassadors for the university community, and as judges for a separate but related awards program called the Peabody-Facebook Futures of Media Award. For the Futures of Media Award, which fall under the Peabody Media Center, students review and judge digital storytelling and choose top winners for stories in digital spaces.

“From my own personal experience, it’s the coolest thing I’ve done, by far, at UGA,” said third-year honor board member Alex Estroff (ABJ ’17), a journalism graduate from Marietta, Georgia.

The sixteen students are selected based on a rigorous application process each fall and are now required to take a class in the Department of Entertainment and Media Studies, New Digital Narratives, taught by Jones in the spring. While any UGA student can apply, a majority of the Student Honor Board members this year are Grady College students.

The Peabody Student Honor board participates in a class discussion evaluating potential submissions for the Peabody-Facebook Futures of Media Award.
Jeff Jones, director of the Peabody Awards, taught the first New Digital Narratives class this past spring.

Jones explains that the first part of the class is pedagogical, with discussions about immersive media, video games, podcasts, webisodes, social media stars, virtual reality, interactive documentary and other similar topics. The second half of the class is the process of reviewing and selecting winners for the award.

“By taking the class, I think students are able to apply more complex analytics in their judgments, more than just ‘I like that’ or ‘I don’t like that,’” Jones said of the process.

Shelby Silverman, a third-year Entertainment and Media Studies graduate (ABJ ’17), agrees. “The give and take and respectful debates are what led to us to award, what is in my opinion, an incredible group of media projects that truly do represent to future of media.”

It’s the first-hand experience of working with the digital, storytelling and media industries, that has taught the biggest lessons to the students.

“It’s a great example of experiential learning,” Jones continued. “What we do is no longer just theoretical. We are applying what we learned to evaluate what constitutes the more innovative and cutting-edge type of stories in digital media today.”

Silverman continues that her involvement with the team has taught her important skills. “Being involved with the Peabody Student Honor Board has added real-world media industry experience while still being under the guidance of the incredible team at the Peabody Awards,” she said. “It has brought valuable leadership and teamwork experience to my time at UGA.”

The Futures of Media Awards will distributed at a luncheon ceremony on May 19, the day before the Peabody Awards Ceremony in New York City.

This year’s Peabody-Facebook Futures of Media winners include:

See “Six winners of Peabody-Facebook Futures of Media Awards announced,” for more details.