USC Provost’s Professor Henry Jenkins named to George Foster Peabody Awards Board

By Gretchen Parker

USC Annenberg’s Henry Jenkins is one of the three newest members of the board that selects Peabody Awards, one of the most prestigious prizes for excellence in electronic media, administrators of the award announced Wednesday.

Jenkins, who is USC Provost’s Professor of Communication, Journalism, Cinematic Arts and Education, will join the 15-member panel in March. The group is charged with selecting recipients of the 73rd annual Peabody Awards from an international field of more than 1,000 entries from broadcast and cable television, radio and the Internet. The 2013 recipients are set to be announced in April.

“I am enormously excited about serving on the Peabody committee,” Jenkins said. “As someone who has been a life-long television fan, I've always respected the openness of the Peabody Awards to recognize outstanding accomplishments across a range of programming – news as well as entertainment, science fiction as well as ‘serious drama.’"

Serving on the Peabody Awards panel offers several unique opportunities, Jenkins said.

“I am hopeful that my involvement can help them also respond to a shifting media environment where real accomplishments are emerging at the intersections between media that other awards committees have had a difficulty understanding and appreciating,” he said. “And I look forward to broadening my own already eclectic tastes in media content to discover work that would never have crossed my desk otherwise. “

And students will benefit as well, he added: “This new appreciation will no doubt translate back into the kinds of experiences I can offer to the students in my classes here at USC.”

Also joining the board in March are John Huey, former editor-in-chief of Time, Inc., and Eric Deggans, future TV critic for National Public Radio.

“These are interesting times in the shifting landscape of electronic media, ” said Jeffrey P. Jones, Director of the Peabody Awards. “These three individuals bring us extensive knowledge and expertise that can help navigate that landscape as we determine just what constitutes ‘excellence’ in a convergent media era. We are grateful for their commitment of time and effort.”

Biographies of all 15 Peabody board members are posted here. The awards were established in 1940 and are administered by University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The accolades recognize distinguished achievement and meritorious public service by stations, networks, producing organizations and individuals.

Larry Gross, Vice Dean of USC Annenberg and Director of its School of Communication, said, “The Peabody Awards are the most forward thinking of the major media awards, so it is entirely appropriate that Henry Jenkins has been asked to serve on the awards panel. Henry is a true pioneer and intellectual mentor to those working at the forefront of contemporary culture and he will bring a wide range of experience and generosity of spirit to this prestigious enterprise. His colleagues across the USC campus have reason to be proud of this recognition.”

Jenkins arrived at USC in Fall 2009 after spending the previous decade as the Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program and the Peter de Florez Professor of Humanities. He is the author and/or editor of fifteen books on various aspects of media and popular culture, including Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory CultureHop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture and From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games. His newest books include Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide and Fans, Bloggers and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture. He co-authored a book on“spreadable media” with Sam Ford and Joshua Green.  He also co-authored Reading in a Participatory Culture. He has also written for Technology ReviewComputer GamesSalon, and The Huffington Post.

As one of the first media scholars to chart the changing role of the audience in an environment of increasingly pervasive digital content, Jenkins has been at the forefront of understanding the effects of participatory media on society, politics and culture. His research gives key insights to the success of social-networking websites, networked computer games, online fan communities and other advocacy organizations, and emerging news media outlets.

Jenkins is teaching a class this fall titled “Public Intellectuals: Theory and Practice,” which aims to give graduate students professional development skills.

Jenkins is recognized as a leading thinker in the effort to redefine the role of journalism in the digital age. Through parallels drawn between the consumption of pop culture and the processing of news information, he and his fellow researchers have identified new methods to encourage citizen engagement.

He is the principal investigator for Civic Paths and the MAPP project, a group which is part of the MacArthur Digital Media and Learning Initiative.  He is Chief Advisor and Senior Research Fellow for the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab.