Most people are familiar with the Peabody Awards, the distinguished awards given for a variety of media since 1940. What they might not know is that on November 15th Peabody announced it is launching The Media Center, which will be a media production division and scholarly research center of the Peabody Awards. What’s more is Communication Arts Professor Jonathan Gray, currently on the Board of Jurors for the Awards, will be one of the inaugural Peabody Fellow Scholars who will serve part of The Media Center’s mission.
“The Media Center is a natural extension of what the Peabody Awards set out to do 75 years ago,” said Jeffrey Jones, the executive director of the awards program and news center. “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 will have three main areas of focus. The first includes Peabody Programs, which aim to engage the public with socially and politically relevant content through the new Peabody Digital Network. The second focus is the Peabody Archive, one of America’s largest audiovisual archives. Peabody will launch the Cultural Memory Project, which will use archival media to interact with the issues and debates of today. And third, The Media Center will open the Peabody Academy, which will connect Peabody winners with up-and-coming storytellers to develop engaging, transformative stories.
Jones will direct the work of The Media Center with the help of the Peabody Fellow Scholars, a group of six media studies scholars from around the United States including Professor Jonathan Gray from the Department of Communication Arts. The fellows will help to create public scholarship with The Media Center’s various endeavors.
“It’s a great honor,” Professor Gray said. “Peabody is highly respected — Walter Cronkite famously said that you count your Emmys and cherish your Peabody — and for good reasons. It’s also taking leaps and bounds forward under its current director Jeffrey Jones, challenging itself to do ever more bold things and to facilitate a general discussion about public- and civic-minded media. It’s a wonderful time to be involved with Peabody, therefore, especially since the things it’s doing are the things I want to be doing, and the things I think all media scholars could be trying to do.”
The Media Center at Peabody certainly seems like a promising development in the media industry. We congratulate Professor Gray on his involvement with such an exciting project!