Veteran journalist Miles O’Brien was on campus today to give a lecture on the media’s coverage of aviation. The lecture, titled “Aviation Media Fatigue,” was a retrospective look on how often the media makes mistakes when reporting on matters involving aviation and technology.

“It’s an unhappy relationship, with a lot of inaccuracies,” said O’Brien of aviation and media coverage. Combining video examples with some of his own experiences, O’Brien highlighted inaccuracies in stories ranging from the Wright brothers’ first flight, to First Lady Michelle Obama’s plane having to abort its landing; a story that O’Brien says received coverage that was “way disproportionate” for what was, in reality, “a simple go-around.”

O’Brien, a 30-year journalist and private pilot with a family history in aviation, claims that this trend of misinformation comes from the fact that most journalists don’t share his experience in aviation, and are often reluctant to cover technology. O’Brien then advised aviation professionals to build a relationship with people in the media to improve coverage. “Educate them,” he says, “because they don’t really know.”

O’Brien spent 17 years as a correspondent for CNN’s Science and Technology team, and currently reports on space, aviation, science and technology for PBS. He uses his family’s history in aviation as an asset in his journalism career. His father and grandfather were both pilots, and he currently owns his own plane, which he often uses in his reports. He did not, however, fly it to his appearance at Vaughn.

“It’s down for maintenance,” he said. “Hopefully a Vaughn graduate is working on it.”


Miles O’Brien presents “Aviation Media Fatigue” to Vaughn students.