Miles O’Brien is a veteran independent journalist who focuses on science, technology and aerospace.
He is the science correspondent for PBS NewsHour, a producer and director for the PBS science documentary series NOVA, and a correspondent for the PBS documentary series FRONTLINE and the National Science Foundation Science Nation series.
For nearly seventeen of his thirty-two years in the news business, he worked for CNN as the science, environment and aerospace space correspondent and the anchor of various programs, including American Morning.
While at CNN, he secured a deal with NASA to become the first journalist to fly on the space shuttle. The project ended with the loss of Columbia and her crew in 2003 – a story he told to the world in a critically acclaimed sixteen-hour marathon of live coverage.
Prior to joining CNN, he worked as a reporter at television stations in Boston, Tampa, Albany, NY and St. Joseph, MO. He began his television career as a desk assistant at WRC-TV in Washington, DC.
O’Brien is an accomplished pilot and is frequently called upon to explain the world of aviation to a mass audience. He has won numerous awards over the years, including a half-dozen Emmys, and a Peabody and DuPont for his coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.
In February of 2014, a heavy equipment case fell on his forearm while he was on assignment. He developed Acute Compartment Syndrome, which necessitated the emergency amputation of his left arm above the elbow.
Born in Detroit and raised in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI, he is based in Washington, DC. He has a son at the US Naval Academy and a daughter at Davidson College in North Carolina. He was a history major at Georgetown University.
Overcoming Adversity & Dealing with Change
Miles O’Brien is the perfect person to address your audience and motivate your people as they grapple with the sea of change that surround them every day.
From the anchor desk to the field, for more than two decades, Miles has made it his business to cover the leading edge of scientific and technological change, no matter the challenge in reporting the story. Dealing with enormously shocking tragedy live on air during the Columbia disaster, getting tipsy on the job to report on the genetics of alcoholism, battling secrecy and exposure to radiation to report on the impact of the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown after the Japanese tsunami- it's all in a day's work for Miles. He approaches every challenge and obstacle he faces with poise, professionalism, humor and most of all a great strength of character and conviction.
Most recently, Miles' reporting has turned personal. Shockingly, while reporting overseas he suffered a seemingly small injury that lead to the emergency amputation of his left arm. He's now drawing deeply from his past experiences and his personal strength to overcome the challenges of dealing with the sudden loss of a limb.
Miles' compelling stories are sure to engage any audience. The bottom line theme: change really can be good – even though it doesn’t always feel that way when it happens. And, even the most seemingly insurmountable obstacles can be overcome with perseverance.
Moderator/Master of Ceremonies
O’Brien’s experience and background in the fast-paced world of television news -coupled with his passion and knowledge about space, aviation, science and the need to improve STEM education in the United States - make him a perfect master of ceremonies or moderator for meetings or galas that focus on science and technology policy. He is used to thinking on his feet and can make your meeting more memorable.
Fun & Engaging Customized Multimedia Talks
Miles is open to crafting custom speeches in the areas of space, aviation, science, technology, media & journalism. Please inquire if you have a specific topic you would like to have him speak on. Some ideas for custom-tailored talks that he's given in the past include:
-The tectonic shifts in the media business: through his personal story, he can talk about the decline of mainstream media – and the rise of media by of and for the masses. With searing, personal analysis, supported by humorous anecdotes, he tells audiences how best to respond – and thrive – in the face of big, fundamental change. And how best to deal with a drastically changed media landscape. O’Brien says the “barbarians are inside the palace gates – and all the rules are changing. But there are big opportunities for those who understand how.”
-How the media covers risk – and how those who are involved in risky endeavors should manage their story – not run from it. “It is essential to tell your own story – good or bad,” says O’Brien. “Nature abhors a vacuum and the media will fill it with fiction.”
-How green revolution can lead to some “green” - O’Brien has covered green technologies for nearly 20 years and has an amazing breadth and depth of insight in this sector. His speeches include excerpts of interviews and stories he has gathered over the years to illustrate his points. “Green is the new green,” says O’Brien. “If Americans don’t get that soon – China will be the home of all the innovation as we move away from fossil fuels into this exciting cleaner world.”
-The new space revolution – O’Brien has been on the front row of a sea change in space. It goes without saying that he knows NASA, its engineers, scientists and astronauts very well. But he also knows the young, bold entrepreneurs who hope to turn space into a real business. He bemoans the fact that only about 500 people have ever traveled in space since the first launches 50 years ago. “We should be flying 500 people a week – and it will happen before too long, unless political forces block some key changes in the way NASA does business.” says O’Brien.