|Awarded for||Distinguished achievement and meritorious public service by television and radio stations, networks, producing organizations, individuals and the World Wide Web.|
|Presented by||Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia|
The George Foster Peabody Awards (Peabody Awards) recognizes distinguished and meritorious public service by radio and television stations, networks, producing organizations and individuals. Reflecting excellence in quality rather than popularity or commercial success, the Peabody is awarded to about 25-35 winners annually from more than 1,000 entries. Because submissions are accepted from a wide variety of sources and styles, deliberations seek "Excellence On Its Own Terms." Each entry is evaluated on the achievement of standards it establishes within its own contexts. Entries are self-selected by those making submissions, for which a US$300 fee (US$175 for radio) is required.
In 1939, the National Association of Broadcasters formed a committee to recognize outstanding achievement in radio broadcasting. Committee member Lambdin Kay, public-service director for WSB radio in Atlanta, Georgia at the time, is credited for creating the award, named for businessman and philanthropist George Foster Peabody, who donated the funds that made the awards possible. Lessie Smithgall introduced Lambdin to John E. Drewry, of the University of Georgia's Henry W. Grady School of Journalism, who endorsed the idea. The Peabody Award was established in 1940 with the school, now the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, as its permanent home.
The Peabody Awards were originally only for radio, but in 1948 television awards were introduced. In the late 1990s additional categories for material distributed via the World Wide Web were added. Materials created solely for theatrical motion picture release are not eligible.
Peabody judging 
The Peabody Awards judging process is unusually rigorous. Evaluation of the more than 1,000 entries typically received begins in early February with some 30 committees composed of a number of University of Georgia faculty or staff members and selected students. Each committee is charged with screening or listening to a small number of entries and delivering written recommendations to the Peabody Board, a ~16-member panel of scholars, critics and media-industry professionals. Board members discuss recommended entries as well as their own selections at intensive preliminary meetings in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. The Board convenes at the Peabody Offices on the University of Georgia campus in late March for final screenings and deliberations. Only unanimously selected programs receive Peabodys. There is no set number of Awards. Since 1941, when the first Awards were presented for work completed in 1940, no more than 39 Awards have been presented in a single year.
Key people 
- George Foster Peabody (1852–1938), namesake of the awards, was a highly successful investment banker who devoted much of his fortune to education and social enterprise.
- Lambdin Kay was the awards chairman for The National Association of Broadcasters when he was asked to create a prize to honor the nation's premier radio programs and performances, as the Pulitzer did for the print press.
- John E. Drewry (1902–1983) was the first dean of the University of Georgia's Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. He accepted the position of dean when it was created in 1940. That same year he helped Lambdin Kay, general manager of Atlanta's WSB Radio, create the Peabody Awards recognizing excellence in broadcasting.
- Dr. Worth McDougald (1926–2007) served as Director of the Peabody Awards program from 1963 until his retirement in 1991.
- Barry Sherman (1952–2000) was the Director of the George Foster Peabody Awards program at the University of Georgia from 1991 until his death in 2000.
- Horace Newcomb (2001-2013) currently holds the Lambdin Kay Chair for the Peabodys' in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. He joined The Peabody Program in 2001.
- Jeffrey P. Jones (2013 - ) Will succeed Horace Newcomb July 2013 as the Lambdin Kay Chair for the Peabodys' in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.
Award ceremony 
The Peabody Awards are formally presented each year in late May or early June at a luncheon in New York City. Past hosts include Walter Cronkite, Leslie Stahl, Jackie Gleason, Jon Stewart and Larry King.
Peabody Awards Archive 
The Peabody Awards Collection is the flagship of The Walter J. Brown Media Archive & Peabody Awards Collection. The archives are housed in the "Special Collections Library" near the north campus of The University of Georgia. The archives mission is to preserve, protect, and provide access to the moving image and sound materials that reflect the collective memory of broadcasting and the history of the state of Georgia and its people. The collection contains nearly every entry for the first major broadcast award given in the United States. Entries begin in 1940 for radio and 1948 for television, and at least 1,000 new entries are received every year—programs created by local, national, and international producers. The collection provides a cultural cross-section of television from its infancy to the present day, featuring news, documentary, entertainment, educational, and children's programming. Once judging is complete all the entries are moved to the Main Library for in-depth cataloging, access, and long term preservation.
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