Peabody Expands To Include Interactive Storytelling

2021 Interactive Board Announcement

Peabody Awards Expand To Include New Categories For Digital and Interactive Storytelling

Distinguished Board Of Jurors Appointed For The Inaugural Awards

ATHENS, GA (June 29, 2021)—The Peabody Awards today introduced the expansion of its award categories to recognize storytelling achievements across interactive, immersive and new media categories. An additional board of ten newly appointed jurors, composed of esteemed industry experts, will lead Peabody in expanding the organization’s long-established pedigree to recognize works in digital and immersive formats. The Peabody Awards, the oldest and most prestigious awards honoring stories that matter in broadcasting and streaming media, are based at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Georgia in Athens.

“The foundation of the Peabody Awards is honoring stories that matter. Significant and incredibly creative storytelling is happening beyond legacy media before our eyes. New storytelling techniques and advancements in technology are surpassing the confines of traditional media,” Jeffrey Jones, executive director of Peabody said. “Creators are pioneering new methods to tell powerful stories and reach new audiences, and the achievements are extraordinary. With the introduction of digital and interactive media as its own distinctive category, we’re thrilled to be recognizing groundbreaking and important narratives in these digital spaces,” said Jones.

The Peabody Interactive Board will identify exemplary projects across an evolving range of formats, including Gaming, Interactive Journalism, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality,  Social Video, Interactive Documentary, Transmedia Storytelling, and more. The inaugural awards will be given to legacy media projects that demonstrate the depth of these new formats, emphasizing the foundational standards for future award winners and highlighting stories that have helped define the digital and interactive genres. Winners of the awards will be announced later this year in a separate celebration from the traditional spring awards ceremony, along with formal details on the submission calendar, eligibility, and award categories.

“We believe that impactful stories can come from anywhere, in new and evolving forms that push the limits of our understanding of how to tell stories. This expansion of the Peabody Awards recognizes the variety of storytelling media, and the storytellers who strive to move technology and their audiences into new spaces,” Diana Williams, chairwoman of the new Peabody Interactive Board said.  “Our newly minted board is excited to have the opportunity to award and celebrate these creative contributions to the storytelling form,”   said Williams. 

Members of the Peabody Interactive Board are:

Diana Williams (Chair), CEO and Co-founder, Kinetic Energy Entertainment. Williams is an award-winning film producer and has a wide range of experience in the entertainment industry. She was the Creative Development and Franchise Producer at Lucasfilm, where she developed film and TV (including Star Wars Rebels, Rogue One), mobile and console video games, and a member of the team that launched ILMxLAB, an immersive entertainment and mixed reality laboratory.

Lars Bastholm, Chief Creative Officer, Story House Egmont.An experienced creative leader whose career spans brands (Google), traditional agencies (Ogilvy), and digital agencies (AKQA), Bastholm’s work as a creative director has garnered many international awards, including 3 Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.

Jay Bushman, Writer/Producer. Bushman works at the intersection of traditional and emerging formats, and is an Emmy Award winner for his work as a writer and transmedia producer on “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.” A contributor to interactive campaigns and experiences for Disney, Paramount, Google, Microsoft, and Netflix, Bushman is also well-regarded for his experimental work in social media storytelling — including writing one of the first Twitter novels. He was dubbed as “The Epic Poet of Twitter” by New Scientist Magazine and as an “Enterprising Fabulist” by Vanity Fair.

Aymar Jean Christian, PhD., Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Northwestern University. A scholar of how the web brought innovation to television in opening development to independent producers, Christian is co-founder of OTV | Open Television, a research project and platform for intersectional television, and OTV Studio, an incubator for intersectional film & television. This work has received recognition from the Television Academy, and has been programmed in partnership with the Sundance Institute and the city of Chicago.

Katerina Cizek, Artistic Director and Co-founder, Co-Creation Studio at MIT Open Documentary Lab. For over a decade, Cizek worked as a documentary director at the National Film Board of Canada, transforming the organization into a world-leading digital hub, with the projects HIGHRISE and Filmmaker-in-Residence. She has served as an advisor at the Sundance Institutes’ New Frontier Lab and Stories of Change Program as well as CPH:DOX and ESoDoc. Cizek is a Peabody and two-time Emmy-winning documentarian.

Amy Hennig, President, New Media Division at Skydance Media. A thirty-year veteran of the game industry, Hennig has served as Creative Director and Lead Writer on numerous titles, including Naughty Dog’s acclaimed Uncharted series and Crystal Dynamics’ groundbreaking Soul Reaver / Legacy of Kain franchise. She recently announced a partnership with Skydance Media to explore new frontiers in interactive storytelling. 

Al Shaw, Editor, News Applications at ProPublica. Shaw has been a developer and reporter of digital news for over a decade. At ProPublica, he uses data and maps to tell interactive stories about the environment, natural disasters and politics. His work has been honored with a Peabody Award, a gold medal from the Society for News Design, multiple silver medals from Malofiej and a Sigma Delta Chi Award from SPJ. He is a two-time Livingston Award Finalist and was part of a team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. 

Kamal Sinclair, Executive Director of the Guild of Future Architects. Sinclair is co-author of Making a New Reality, and artist at Sinclair Futures. She served as External Advisor to MacArthur Foundation’s Journalism & Media Program and Ford Foundation’s JustFilms, Creative Advisor to For Freedoms, MIT’s Center for Advanced Virtuality, Starfish Accelerator, and Eyebeam. Previously, she directed Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Labs Program, which supports artists working at the convergence of film, art, media and technology. Sinclair was an artist and producer on Question Bridge: Black Males, which had an interactive website and curriculum; published book; and installation exhibited in 60+ museums/festivals. 

Sara Thacher, Creative Director and Senior R&D Imagineer at Walt Disney Imagineering. In her current role, Thacher works with engineers, computer scientists, architects, artists, and inventors to fashion new technology into revolutionary guest experiences. Her work at Imagineering R&D includes leadership on the upcoming Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser two-day immersive experience and the TEA Award winning Haunted Mansion: Ghost Post. Previously, she served as Executive Producer and Designer at Nonchalance where she co-created the groundbreaking experience, The Jejune Institute.

Lance Weiler, Co-founder and Director, Columbia University School of the Arts Digital Storytelling Lab. An alumnus of the Sundance Screenwriting Lab, Weiler is recognized as a pioneer in mixing storytelling and technology. Wired magazine named him “one of 25 people helping to reinvent entertainment and change the face of Hollywood.” His projects include Collapsus: The Energy Risk Conspiracy, Body/Mind/Change in collaboration with David Cronenberg, Frankenstein AI, Where There’s Smoke, and Bear 71.

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About Peabody Awards

Respected for its integrity and revered for its standards of excellence, the Peabody is an honor like no other for television, podcast/radio, and digital media. Chosen each year by a diverse Board of Jurors through unanimous vote, Peabody Awards are given in the categories of entertainment, documentary, news, podcast/radio, arts, children’s and youth, public service, and multimedia programming. The annual Peabody winners are a collection of 30 stories that powerfully reflect the pressing social issues and the vibrant emerging voices of our day. From major productions to local journalism, the Peabody Awards shine a light on the Stories That Matter and are a testament to the power of art and reportage in the push for truth, social justice, and equity. The Peabody Awards were founded in 1940 at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia and are still based in Athens today.

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