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, 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.

Peabody launches Media Center

Peabody is launching The Media Center at Peabody, a scholarly research center and digital media production arm of the prestigious Peabody Awards. The announcement was made by Jeffrey Jones, executive director of the awards program and new center. The Media Center at Peabody is based at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Jones revealed the formation of The Media Center at an event last night in Los Angeles celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Peabody Awards attended by senior executives from the entertainment and media worlds. The evening also saluted the lifetime achievements of Norman Lear, a Peabody Award honoree, and featured a conversation between the television icon and producer Judd Apatow.

“The Media Center is a natural extension of what the Peabody Awards set out to do 75 years ago,” Jones stated. “It provides a platform for elevating the currency, conversation around, and impact of each year’s best stories in television, radio and digital media. It furthers our goal of becoming a year-round organization that demonstrates how and why Peabody-winning stories are influencing the national dialogue about pressing social issues.”

The Media Center’s three primary areas of focus are:

Peabody Programs

The Media Center at Peabody will engage in programming that outwardly extends the yearly awards winners, as well as critical scholarly engagement with the changing media industry landscape. The Media Center is in the process of launching the Peabody Digital Network, a new digital media production arm of Peabody. Through alliances with a variety of distribution outlets, the network will produce and circulate content that illuminates the social and political relevance of award-winning stories and guide public engagement with them. Additional program initiatives include podcasts with award-winning screenwriters, showrunners and producers; and panel discussions, symposia and conferences that link storytellers with groups working to address such issues.

Peabody Archive

Peabody is home to the third largest archive of audiovisual materials in the United States, housed in UGA’s Special Collections Libraries. Through books, films and digital media productions, The Media Center’s Cultural Memory Project will connect past and present—recovering vital voices from yesterday’s storytellers and inserting them into debates over issues of the day. The Cultural Memory Project focuses on what these stories can contribute to current social discourse, as well as how they can inform a reevaluation of what constitutes cultural memory of who and what we are as a nation.

Peabody Academy

The Media Center will partner with industry organizations and previous Peabody Award winners to engage aspiring screenwriters, producers and filmmakers through master classes, seminars, workshops, internships and other educational activities. The academy’s focus is connecting Peabody winners with the storytellers of the future, with an emphasis on telling stories with the power to engage and transform.

Jeffrey Jones, executive director of the awards program and professor and Lambdin Kay Chair in entertainment and media studies at the University of Georgia, will direct The Media Center’s work. He is joined by a distinguished group of television and media studies scholars from across the country who serve as the inaugural class of Peabody Fellow Scholars (2017-19):

Professor David Craig, University of Southern California

Professor Aymar Christian, Northwestern University

Professor Jonathan Gray, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Professor Amanda Lotz, University of Michigan

Professor Jason Mittell, Middlebury College

Professor Barbie Zelizer, University of Pennsylvania


Peabody is an organization dedicated to invigorating people through the power of stories. Founded in 1940, Peabody honors and extends conversation around stories that matter in television, radio and digital media through symposiums, screenings, podcasts and an annual awards ceremony considered to be among the most prestigious in the industry. Peabody gives awards for news, entertainment, documentaries, children’s programming, education, interactive programming and public service, which in turn encourage media to reach for and achieve the highest standards. Peabody is administered through the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. For more information, visit or follow @PeabodyAwards on Twitter.