YouTube, online sites recognized for first timeABC's "Lost," AMC's "Breaking Bad," Nickelodeon's "Avatar" and — in a nod to the influence of the Web — YouTube are among the winners of 2008 Peabody Awards, unveiled Wednesday.
Others among the 36 television and radio programs or media institutions that garnered accolades for excellence were NPR's radio reports from China on the earthquake in Chengdu, the Metropolitan Opera's performances in high definition, CNN's presidential primary and debates coverage and "Saturday Night Live's" political satire.
For the first time, several Web-related entities received nods, including the New York Times' Web site and the Onion's news network as well as the recognition of YouTube for its affect on the media landscape. The latter was lauded for being "an ever- expanding archive-cum-bulletin board that both embodies and promotes democracy."
Although there were numerous radio and TV entries devoted to the financial meltdown of the past year, only one — NPR's hourlong analysis "The Giant Pool of Money" — convinced voters for its depth and clarity.
On the news front, the Big Three TV network news operations all scored, with NBC bringing home a citation for its war dispatch "Richard Engel Reports: Tip of the Spear," CBS News for a "60 Minutes" segment on the crisis in health care called "Lifeline," and ABC News for a six-part reality doc set in a major hospital ("Hopkins").
Entries from HBO did especially well, with nods to comedy series "Entourage" and to miniseries "John Adams" as well as to docs "Nanking," a reconstruction of the 1937 invasion of the Chinese city by the Japanese; "Hear and Now," about a deaf couple who regain their hearing but lose something in the process; and "The Gates," about the artist Christo and his efforts to get his Central Park installation on display.
While there were fewer than usual nods to entertainment shows, the strength and variety of nonfiction was notable, with a dozen wins for documentaries scored. These ranged from an expose of Chinese child gymnasts from Shanghai Media called "The Red Race" to ESPN's look at the early years of black college basketball ("Black Magic") to a scientifically eye-opening account of how far monkeys have come (PBS' "Ape Genius").
Also among the winners is the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, an award shared by Zhang Yimou, who staged the spectacle, and NBC, which broadcast the event. Turner Classic Movies was also honored for its round-the-clock screening of movies on basic cable and its ongoing commitment to film restoration.
The George Foster Peabody Awards, an independent nonprofit based at the University of Georgia in Athens, have been honoring the electronic media since 1940. This year, there were more than 900 entries, which were short-listed by students and faculty at the university and then discussed and voted on by the 16-member Peabody board. All final decisions must be unanimous and are irrespective of genre.
Horace Newcomb and Sully Clark, the director of the Peabodys and the dean of the university's Grady College of Journalism, respectively, announced the winners in Athens. THR editor Elizabeth Guider is among those on the board.
An awards ceremony, to be emceed by NBC anchor Brian Williams, is set for May 18 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. (partialdiff)