WASHINGTON (May 22, 2013)—Award-winning journalist, speaker, producer, television host and filmmaker Soledad O’Brien was today named the new moderator of the National Geographic Bee, the National Geographic Society’s annual geography competition. O’Brien will take over the role from “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek, who has moderated the National Geographic Bee for 25 years. He will step down following the World Championship in St. Petersburg, Russia, in July. O’Brien will begin her Bee duties in May 2014 with the 26th annual National Geographic Bee.
John Fahey, National Geographic Society chairman and CEO, said, “While we are immensely sad to bid farewell to Alex, we could not be more excited to have Soledad on board. We believe she can help encourage students to have a lifelong passion for learning about the world and its many wonders, challenges and opportunities for exploration and discovery. Her experiences as a journalist and her travels around the world make her perfectly suited to this role as Bee moderator.”
A critically acclaimed journalist, O’Brien has reported on breaking news from around the globe. In 2011, she won an Emmy for “Crisis in Haiti” in the category of Outstanding Live Coverage of a Current News Story Long Form. O’Brien was part of the teams that earned CNN a George Foster Peabody Award for its BP oil spill and Katrina coverage and an Alfred I. duPont Award for its coverage of the Southeast Asia tsunami. In 2010, the National Association of Black Journalists named O’Brien Journalist of the Year, and Edward R. Murrow Awards lauded her with the RTDNA/UNITY award for Latino in America. Also in 2010, she wrote a critically acclaimed memoir, “The Next Big Story: My Journey through the Land of Possibilities,” chronicling her biggest reporting moments and how her upbringing and background influenced these experiences. Recently, O’Brien was named a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In this role, O’Brien, a Harvard alum, will explore a wide variety of topics related to public education in America.
In June 2013, O’Brien will officially launch Starfish Media Group, a 360 media production company and distributor, dedicated to uncovering and producing empowering stories that take a challenging look at important social issues. Concurrently, O’Brien and her husband run the Soledad O’Brien & Brad Raymond Starfish Foundation, which sends young women to and through college by creating a bridge between obstacles and opportunity.
O’Brien resides in Manhattan, N.Y. with her husband and four young children.
The National Geographic Bee is an annual geography competition for fourth- through eighth-graders, who compete for college scholarships worth $50,000. It was developed by National Geographic in 1989 in response to concern about the lack of geographic knowledge among young people in the United States. Trebek has hosted the national finals since that first competition and has been a vocal proponent of geography education. Trebek also has hosted the World Championship every other year. This year, the contest will take place in Russia. From July 28 to 31, 19 international teams will compete against each other in St. Petersburg; the contest will be hosted by the Russian Geographical Society.
About National Geographic
The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888, its mission is to inspire people to care about the planet. The member-supported Society offers a community for members to get closer to explorers, connect with other members and help make a difference. The Society reaches more than 450 million people worldwide each month through National Geographic and other magazines, National Geographic Channel, television documentaries, music, radio, films, books, DVDs, maps, exhibitions, live events, school publishing programs, interactive media and merchandise. National Geographic has funded more than 10,000 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program promoting geographic literacy. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com.