The Peabody Media Center has named seven winners of this year’s Peabody Futures of Media Awards for outstanding digital storytelling released in 2018. This year’s winners include: digital journalism exploring ethical questions about society’s treatment of sex offenders, immersive experiences into the Dutch drug trade and artifacts in British museums; virtual reality experiences about complex family relationships and dealing with loss and grief; and innovative, interactive storytelling on gaming platforms.
Established in 2015, the Peabody Futures of Media Awards (FOMA) celebrate the spirit of innovation and the most powerful narratives in an ever-changing digital landscape. The awards are curated and judged by 14 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.
“Peabody recognizes the importance of identifying narratives that capitalize on the affordances of digital spaces,” said Jeffrey Jones, director of the Peabody Media Center and executive director of the Peabody Awards. “These are stories told in new and powerful ways that exemplify the exciting possibilities across media platforms.”
FOMA winners will be recognized during the 78th Annual Peabody Awards Ceremony on Saturday, May 18 at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City.
- The Peabody Futures of Media Awards are (in alpha order by category):
Banished Created by Beth Schwartzapfel and Emily Kassie for The Marshall Project in partnership with Longreads
Using a combination of video, evocative photo essays and interactive maps and graphics, “Banished” tells the story of sex offenders in Miami-Dade County who have been left homeless due to increasingly restrictive housing and registration laws. A complicated and conflicting piece, The Marshall Project’s ambitious storytelling compels the reader to confront weighing morality against humanity and ask the question: “How do you build a life in the shadows of a society that no longer wants you?”
The Industry: Mapping The Dutch Drug EconomyDirected by Mirka Duijn for the Submarine Channel and VPRO
“The Industry: Mapping The Dutch Drug Economy” allows users the unique experience of entering into a new world to explore and learn about nearly every aspect of the drug economy in the Netherlands. Users learn about “Europe’s number one drug country” through a series of 3D models of drug-selling or drug-production locations and interactive graphics that reveal hard facts and shocking figures. A map feature gives special agency to the user as they delve into the Dutch drug world via boat, plane, train, or car while also viewing an interactive network which ensures no part of the drug economy is left untouched.
Civilisations Augmented Reality AppProduced by Nick Hanson for BBC. Made in collaboration between BBC Arts, BBC R&D, Nexus Studios, and 30 U.K. galleries and museums
BBC’s arts and culture series “Civilisations” aims to “find answers to fundamental questions about human creativity.” BBC “Civilisations” augmented reality app allows mobile users to become a part of that search. The first AR app from the BBC brings 40 artifacts to life in the palm of the user’s hand, from Egyptian mummies to Italian paintings, Native American masks to Pakistani sculpture. The “magic spotlight” feature brings up annotations and audio related to each artifact, while the “x-ray” and “restore” feature allows users a closer look than museums would allow. “Civilisations AR” brings the museum to the user, creating exciting new opportunities for historical education and accessibility.
QueerskinsWritten by Illya Szilak; Designed and developed by Cyril Tsiboulski
“Queerskins” is a four-episode cinematic virtual reality experience created by new media artist Illya Szilak and creative director Cyril Tsiboulski. Together, with the help of actors, panoramic photographers, volumetric technology, the “Queerskins” creative team brings to life the LGBTQ story about a complex relationship between a devoutly Catholic mother and her gay son who died of AIDS. Currently, the experience consists of an interactive online experience as well as VR experiences (with more episodes forthcoming). A vital narrative about memory, belief and imagination, “Queerskins” represents an approaching era which rightfully demands diversity and understanding between people. This is a story of humanity, not politics, that provides an overwhelming glimpse into a future of answering important questions by means of immersive technology.
Return of the Obra DinnCreated by Lucas Pope for 3909 LLC
“Return of the Obra Dinn” places the player upon the titular ship and tasks them with discovering what has happened to the ship’s crew and passengers, all of whom have died or disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Designed by Lucas Pope and published by 3909 LLC, “Obra Dinn” entices the player to solve mysteries through its stunning and distinct visual style, which takes inspiration from early 1-bit Macintosh games and its gameplay mechanics. Through the use of the Memento Mortem pocket watch, the player is able to return to the moments before a crew member’s death, using clues to piece together how each person onboard died. “Obra Dinn” constructs a masterful mystery that engages users with the narrative every step of the way. Everything—from the game’s atmosphere, to its art, to the way it constructs the story—comes together in a unique narrative experience.
VestigeDirected by Aaron Bradbury
“Vestige” is the grief-filled journey through the mind of Lisa Elin after the loss of her husband, Erik Craighead, recorded in a series of interviews and portrayed in a beautiful live-captured, multi-narrative VR experience. Set within a black void, fragments of their life together materialize as recalled by Lisa. Subsequent viewings offer unique journeys through Lisa’s story, as different explorations trigger different memories. A deeply emotional account of grief, memory, and love, “Vestige” places viewers through the highs and lows of Lisa’s memories the way only brilliant VR can.
ArtificialCreated by Bernie Su and Evan Mandery for Twitch
“Artificial,” the first scripted series developed for Twitch, focuses on Sophie, an artificial intelligence being created by Dr. Matt Lin. With Twitch’s interactive elements and live-streaming capabilities, viewers are able to engage with the characters and alter the narrative of the series through polls, Q&A, and suggestions in the comments. Created by Bernie Su, the co-creator of “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries,” “Artificial” is a one-of-a-kind web series that pushes the boundaries of the format by allowing its audience to shape the series however they see fit. “Artificial” makes great use of the platform’s participatory nature to inform the kind of character Sophie becomes as the show progresses. Designed to be broadcast as a semi-scripted live-stream, “Artificial” blurs the lines between what is real and what is not. While Sophie attempts to pass the Turing Test, the real experiment is how modern audiences choose to interact with this inventive series.