Former Republic writer talks about journey with Alzheimer’s

Embedded journalism typically refers to news reporters attached to military units engaged in war.

Greg O'Brien

Greg O’Brien

In the case of Greg O’Brien, the term applies to the award-winning journalist’s personal battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. O’Brien is embedded in his own mind, chronicling his journey with hope, faith and humor in his new book On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s.

O’Brien will speak and sign books from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 20 at Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, 555 N. Central Ave. Sponsored by Hospice of the Valley, the “Voices of Alzheimer’s” event also includes the agency’s dementia program director Maribeth Gallagher – a doctor of nursing practice and national expert on the disease, the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.

O’Brien was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2009, at the age of 59.

His mother and grandfather also had the disease; they share a common gene. O’Brien decided to face down the demon and write about it, chronicling moments like gargling with rubbing alcohol instead of mouthwash, introducing himself to a friend he’d known for decades, and getting lost for hours on a drive then coasting into his driveway at home with the lights off to escape detection.

With more than 35 years’ experience as a writer, editor, investigative reporter and publisher – including The Arizona Republic – O’Brien tells his story with grace and insight. It is a story about living with Alzheimer’s, not dying from it. O’Brien lives with his family in Cape Cod, where he served as editor of the local newspaper.

There is no charge for the event, which is open to the public. A short documentary film clip about O’Brien and his family produced by “Hoop Dreams” director Steve James will be shown. Valley businessman Ray Artigue, a Cronkite board member, will moderate the event. A question-and-answer session also will be held followed by light refreshments.

To RSVP, contact 602-636-5394 or

KJZZ’s O’Dowd to speak at Phoenix College on Nov. 1

KJZZ News Director and Reporter Peter O’Dowd will speak at Phoenix College Nov. 1 about his news organization’s major project to cover the U.S.-Mexico border and provide its audience with a deeper understanding of the region’s nuanced history and present-day issues.

The lecture is part of the PC Liberal Arts Department’s Fall 2011 Lecture Series. The event is free and open to the public.

KJZZ is the Valley’s local public radio station and National Public Radio member located at Rio Salado Community College in Tempe. Reporters at the station’s Changing America desk have spent the last year examining the people, history and current circumstances found in the borderlands. KJZZ reporters, including O’Dowd, have traveled into the interior of Mexico as well as Guatemala as part of their coverage.

O’Dowd has chronicled these trips and will share why they matter in a discussion titled, “Links to Home: Reporting On the Southwestern US, Mexico and Central America and Why We Should Care.”

As news director, O’Dowd leads a staff of reporters in seven bureaus across the southwestern United States. An accomplished journalist, his work has aired on The BBC, NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation, and American Public Media’s Marketplace. He has covered technology, the housing bubble and the constant debate over immigration policy that keeps Arizona in the national spotlight.

O’Dowd has a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, and a bachelor’s from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Prior to his journalism career, he taught English to schoolchildren in Tokyo, Japan.



When: Tuesday, November 1, 2011
noon-1 p.m. AND 7-8 p.m.

Where: Phoenix College Osborn site, Willo Room, 3310 N. 10th Ave. (NE corner of 11th Avenue and Flower)

Admission: Free and open to the public

For more information, call 602-285-7651.