The Peabody Awards at the University of Georgia has appointed Simon Kilmurry, executive director of the International Documentary Association; and Monica Pearson, television news journalist, to its Board of Jurors. Additionally, Fred Young has been appointed chair of the Board of Jurors and Eddie Garrett the new vice chair. Both are already jurors and Young has previously served as vice chair. The announcement was made by Peabody Awards Director Jeffrey Jones.
Simon Kilmurry became executive director of the International Documentary Association in 2015 after a tenure as executive producer of “POV,” the long-running, much acclaimed PBS showcase for documentaries, and as executive director of “American Documentary,” POV’s non-profit parent organization. Under his leadership, “American Documentary” received a $1 million MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions in 2013. Kilmurry was educated at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and Columbia University Business School’s Institute for Not-for-Profit Management. “POV” documentaries that he has executive produced have won numerous honors, including five Peabodys, a primetime Emmy, 14 News & Documentary Emmys, three DuPont Columbia Awards and two Overseas Press Club Awards.
Monica Pearson, the first woman and first minority to anchor a 6 p.m. newscast in Atlanta, retired in 2012 after 37 years with WSB-TV. She now hosts a weekly radio show on KISS 104.1 FM, writes a column, “Monica Matters,” for Southern Seasons Magazine, and continues her “Closeups” interviews on www.wsbtv.com/monica. She has received numerous accolades and honors for her TV work, including 33 local and regional Emmys. In March 2012, the bipartisan Georgia delegation to the U.S. Congress honored her on the floor of the U.S. House as “a true pioneer and a trailblazer in television news.” She has taught part-time at Atlanta Metropolitan State College. In addition to her degrees from the University of Louisville and the University of Georgia, she holds an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University), Oglethorpe University, American Bible University and a Doctor of Public Service from Young Harris College.
The Peabody Board of Jurors is made up of media industry professionals, media scholars, critics and journalists, each appointed by the Peabody Director for a renewable three-year term of service. This mix of top-level thought leaders from varied backgrounds, all versed in media excellence, ensures that the list of winning programs will reflect the interest of a broad cross-section of audiences, rather than just media insiders.
The single criteria for receiving a Peabody Award is excellence. Toward that end, jurors ask themselves: Does this story matter? Is this a story that needs telling? Does it inform us as citizens or help us empathize with one another?
The existing Board of Jurors includes: Steve Bryant, senior curator of television for the British Film Institute; Eric Deggans, NPR TV Critic; Eddie Garrett, EVP and head of strategy for Weber Shandwick; Jonathan Gray, professor of media and cultural studies at UW-Madison; John Huey, former editor-in-chief of TIME Inc.; Henry Jenkins, professor of communication, journalism, cinematic arts and education at USC; Martha Nelson, global editor-in-chief of Yahoo Media; Marquita Pool-Eckert, former senior producer of CBS Sunday Morning; Naibe Reynoso, host and producer for Ora TV; Doreen Ringer Ross, vice president of film and TV relations for BMI; Bird Runningwater, director, Native American and Indigenous Program at Sundance Institute; Maureen Ryan, chief TV critic, Variety; Fred Young, retired senior vice president of news, Hearst Television; and Barbie Zelizer, professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania.