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UNC School of Media and Journalism Welcomes Award-Winning International Journalist Kate O’Brian as Hearst Visiting Professor

July 27, 2016
Hussman School of Media and Journalism



Kate O’Brian, president of Al Jazeera America, will join the faculty of the UNC School of Media and Journalism as a Hearst Visiting Professor.

With a background in digital platforms, television, radio and investigative reporting, O’Brian will teach Media Hub, a capstone course in the MJ-school.

“I am excited to work closely with the journalism and media students at UNC,” said O’Brian. “It will be rewarding to work with the class as they create quality content, and I hope my experiences at ABC News and at Al Jazeera America will provide insights and become useful learning tools for the students.”

Media Hub provides students with challenging, hands-on experiences that push personal boundaries and provide real-world preparation. Students from the school’s various specializations work together to find, produce and market stories that attract the attention of professional media partners throughout the state and region, and at times, nationally or internationally. The majority of the work in the class is fieldwork — chasing down leads, investigating tips, securing sources, performing print, audio or video interviews, capturing video and audio, pitching stories to news directors and promoting work regionally.

“Kate brings talent, experience and a hard news ethic with her into the school,”​ said Susan King, dean of the school. “​She is one of American journalism’s most successful women leaders of the news industry, and she will impact and inspire our student journalists.”

O’Brian’s first job as a desk assistant with ABC News led to more than two decades with the company, including producer roles in Washington, D.C., New York, Rome and London and work on high-visibility programs like “World News Tonight with Peter Jennings,” “This Week with David Brinkley” and “Good Morning America.” In 2004, O’Brian advanced to executive leadership as the vice president of ABC’s affiliate news service NewsOne. In 2007, she took on the network’s entire news gathering operation in her role as the senior vice president for news. In addition to oversight of all bureaus worldwide, O’Brian also oversaw content creation for affiliate stations and worldwide clients through NewsOne, for ABC News Radio, and through the specialized content units for the network.

O’Brian came on board as president of Al Jazeera America with its inception in 2013. Under her leadership in the three years of its existence, Al Jazeera America won dozens of U.S. and international industry awards, including an Alfred I. duPont Award, two Peabody Awards and an Emmy Award, among others. Al Jazeera America was also nominated for 10 Emmy Awards in an announcement by The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences on July 21, 2016.

Other awards to her credit include an Alfred I. duPont Award as part of the “This Week with David Brinkley” team, an Emmy Award for her coverage of the 2000 Millennium, a duPont and a Peabody Award for her September 11 coverage, a Peabody Award for the ABC News coverage of Superstorm Sandy and the 2015 Robert G. McGruder Award for her commitment to gender and ethnic diversity.


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