Peabody Names ITVS Institutional Award Winner

Posted on April 13, 2017
Peabody blog 03

The prestigious Peabody Awards, now in its 76th year of recognizing the best in storytelling in electronic media, has announced ITVS as this year's recipient of the Peabody Institutional Award. The award will be given out at the Peabody Awards gala event on May 20 in New York City, which will be taped for a television special to air on both PBS and FUSION networks on Friday, June 2 (9 p.m. ET/PT). 

In bestowing this honor, the Peabody Awards Board of Jurors wrote:

"If any organization can claim a foundational place in the flourishing of documentary film over the past generation, it is the Independent Television Service (ITVS). Conceived by independent filmmakers who saw a paucity of diversity in public media, ITVS was formed by Congress in 1988. Since then ITVS has had a broad transformative impact on the media landscape, particularly in public media. With more than 1,400 films funded and a staggering 32 Peabody Awards, ITVS’ output represents an accomplished range of work as rich as any broadcaster or funder. Landmark films within the Peabody canon include: How to Survive a Plague by David France; Marco Williams and Whitney Dow’s Two Towns of Jasper; Leslee Udwin’s Udwin’s India’s Daughter; and The Invisible War by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering. These works remain as relevant today as when they were initially broadcast and have made an impact that is impossible to measure. At a time when public media is under political attack, there is no better time to recognize the vital contributions to public discourse and knowledge than that provided by ITVS."

“We are honored the Peabody board of jurors selected ITVS as the sole winner this year of its Institutional Award,” said Sally Jo Fifer, President and CEO of ITVS. “This news is joyous for our board and staff, our funders, and our independent filmmakers. We also realize how important this award is to communities all over the country whose authentic and compelling stories have been illuminated by the talented filmmakers who tell them."

"For more than 25 years, through our Congressional mandate, we have served as an incubator for filmmakers and an engine for independent voice thanks to unyielding support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and from PBS, which helps us make these stories accessible to all Americans."

"It doesn't matter whether it's your first film or your 15th, documentary filmmaking is hard," adds Noland Walker, ITVS Senior Content Director. "Particularly hard if you're trying to capture something unique and profound about the way life is or could be. The people at ITVS know this, and I think this tremendous honor by the Peabodys acknowledges our work in this area. We know that, yes, films are made by individuals but shaped by cohorts and communities. We know that filmmakers typically live in New York or LA or Boston but they come from Kentucky and Texas, Ohio, Maine, Florida, and everywhere there are people who want to engage with the world. Yes, we support and help develop films, but we also support and help develop the people who make the films."


Past Peabody Institutional Award winners include BBC, NPR, Smithsonian, WGBH, Voice of America, and The Daily Show.

ITVS is also in good company this year as the winner of the Peabody Individual Award is the revolutionary television producer and writer Norman Lear (father of filmmaker Ben Lear, whose film They Call Us Monsters premieres on the ITVS-produced PBS series Independent Lens in May). 

In addition to receiving the institutional Peabody Award, ITVS recently learned that five of our funded films were named Peabody finalists this year, among 60 works (out of 1,200 entries) that represent the most compelling and empowering stories released in electronic media during 2016: 

The Peabody Board of Jurors is made up of an esteemed panel of journalists, media producers, professors, and advisors.

From our blog

  1. On A Knife Edge: When One Film Leads To The Next

    December 6, 2017

    From UK to Virginia, ITVS funded filmmakers come from all walks of life, from all parts of the world.  The moment when a filmmaker’s journey across oceans and wild plains takes them to a community fighting to continue the traditions of their ancestors is where bold stories are born. How would that experience forever leave its mark on the filmmakers and how

  2. Strong and Proud: Harvest Season

    November 1, 2017

    From New York City streets to the back roads of rural America, capturing a story sometimes involves embarking on a journey that can take you thousands of miles from home, meeting people along the way and perhaps discovering an America that most people don’t see.  ITVS-funded filmmaker Bernardo Ruiz set himself to tell the story of those people who bring wine

  3. When Being Green is Good: Farewell Ferris Wheel

    October 25, 2017

    A beautiful film is the the desired outcome of all filmmakers, but indie documentary storytellers are presented with unique obstacles that could derail their vision. Perseverance here is key. Whether your film takes two years or 12, if you are green or seasoned, persisting through those struggles takes faith and a certain kind of bold