Miles O’Brien Named Science Reporter for PBS NewsHour

By Alex Weprin Comment

Former CNN science and space correspondent Miles O’Brien is joining the “PBS NewsHour” as its science reporter.

O’Brien left CNN in December, 2008 when the network shuttered its science and technology unit. Since then he has appeared as host of the PBS miniseries “Blueprint America,” and as a guest expert in space and aviation issues on a  number of TV newscasts.

“I’m delighted to join the PBS NewsHour team,” said O’Brien in a statement.  “Science is so important to our lives and the NewsHour has a reputation for giving thoughtful and in-depth coverage to all its reporting.  I look forward to producing work that helps people better understand the work being done by scientists today.”

The cable news channels have largely abandoned serious science reporting, leaving most of the coverage to the broadcast news divisions and PBS, which is home to programs such as “Nova.”

In recent months all three cable news channels have run spurious science stories, including a Fox News report on the supposed vaccine-autism correlation, an MSNBC report claiming that research proves that the chicken came before the egg, and a CNN report on a woman who magically “regrew” part of her finger by using a dubious product.

CNN also confirmed earlier this year that it had shelved its “Planet in Peril” documentary series.

More information about O’Brien’s hiring after the jump.

Miles O’Brien to Lead PBS NewsHour Science Reporting

Veteran Journalist Will Join the PBS NewsHour as it Raises its Commitment to Broadcast and Online Coverage of Science and Technology

ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — At a time when many news organizations are reducing or have altogether eliminated the coverage of science news, the PBS NewsHour will increase its commitment to science journalism both on air and online.

With the goal of enhancing the profile of its science, engineering and technology reporting – and increasing the science literacy of its audience – the PBS NewsHour has named veteran journalist Miles O’Brien as its new science reporter. O’Brien will lead the NewsHour Science News Unit to serve as a definitive, continuing source of reliable, up-to-the-minute coverage of this important and vibrant element in the lives of millions of Americans.

O’Brien has a talent for telling complex stories in accessible terms and a lifelong passion for aviation, space, science and technology. He made his mark as a science reporter for CNN from 1992 through 2008, and has covered such stores as the repair of the Hubble Telescope, the return of Senator John Glenn to space and the several robotic landings on Mars. Since 2008, O’Brien has been a writer/correspondent for WNET’s “Blueprint America” series, “FRONTLINE” and Discovery Science’s “Innovation Nation” series. He has also led the efforts to stream live coverage of space shuttle launches and produce “This Week in Space” for the website Former CNN Senior Science Producer Kate Tobin, who has worked with O’Brien for 18 years, will serve as field producer for the PBS NewsHour Science New Unit.

“I’m delighted to join the PBS NewsHour team,” said Miles O’Brien. “Science is so important to our lives and the NewsHour has a reputation for giving thoughtful and in-depth coverage to all its reporting. I look forward to producing work that helps people better understand the work being done by scientists today.”

Linda Winslow, Executive Producer of the PBS NewsHour, added, “We are trying to create a resource for people who are hungry for science and technology news. The combined reporting we do on air and online will give our audience a regular destination for reporting on science developments and scientific breakthroughs.”

The Science News Unit will produce taped documentary reports and in-studio discussions for the PBS NewsHour television broadcast, as well as a broad range of original reporting for the online NewsHour.
The PBS NewsHour Science News Unit is funded by the Stephen G. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Working closely with O’Brien in the Science News Unit will be NewsHour Correspondent Hari Sreenivasan and NewsHour Producer/Reporter Jenny Marder. Sreenivasan has already developed several regular science and technology features for the NewsHour’s website and will continue to expand his interests in that arena. He will also serve as a field correspondent on science stories produced primarily for the NewsHour website.

Sreenivasan will expand an existing interaction with Miles O’Brien and other regular science contributors in an effort to make the NewsHour’s Science page a much-visited destination for people interested in this topic.
Jenny Marder, currently a reporter in the PBS NewsHour’s National Affairs Unit, will become a full time reporter for the Science News Unit. Among other duties, she will write and edit a new Science News page on the NewsHour’s website, as well as provide research and production assistance to O’Brien and his production team, which will work from New York City. Marder is a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she specialized in science reporting.

NewsHour taped science reports will focus on cutting edge development in science, technology and engineering throughout the country, all organized around the central question of “What’s at Stake?” They will examine the critical science issues facing the United States and its citizens, and present informative, intellectually-stimulating and journalistically-sound stories to engage even those not normally attracted to coverage of science.

In addition to longer, pre-planned stories for the NewsHour’s broadcast, the PBS NewsHour will react quickly to science developments as-and-when they make news. When a major science development is announced, O’Brien will be on hand to explain its ramifications to the NewsHour’s audience, or to interview the key players involved. When news stories like the recent Gulf Oil Leak present ongoing challenges to scientists at home and overseas, the NewsHour science unit will closely follow cutting-edge research that may be occurring in response to such a crisis.

The NewsHour Science News Unit will also oversee the creation, maintenance and daily publication of a dynamic, topic-specific Science News page on the PBS NewsHour’s website. The web page will curate the long-form stories produced by O’Brien and his team, as well as serve as a hub for ongoing coverage of science and technology stories on a daily basis. The Science News page will provide a virtual place where the PBS NewsHour science team can continually interact and carry on a conversation with the PBS NewsHour audience.

Finally, PBS NewsHour science content will appear on its YouTube and Hulu channels, and the NewsHour will engage in significant efforts to weave its science reporting into the PBS NewsHour’s broader social media initiative, using Facebook, Twitter and other platforms to disseminate our content to a broad, digitally-articulate audience. The NewsHour will provide science materials to educators, distributing streaming video, lesson plans and other standards-based curriculum materials to middle-and high school teachers and students via its Online EXTRA! Educational web site (