Weekly editor says he’s coming to Nov. 15 workshop on drug coverage because ‘We cannot continue to wear blinders’

Why should journalists attend a workshop on covering local drug problems?

Dennis K. Brown

“We cannot continue to wear blinders and ignore this problem that is now affecting every member of our communities,” writes Dennis Brown, editor and publisher of the Lewis County Herald, who has signed up to attend the Covering Substance Abuse and Recovery workshop in Ashland on Nov. 15.

“I’m looking forward to attending the workshop to get some tips on covering what has truly become an epidemic for our area,” Brown told the University of Kentucky‘s Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, which publishes Kentucky Health News and is holding the workshop with Oak Ridge Associated Universities.

“The vast majority of law enforcement activity in Lewis County is directly related to substance abuse. Our jail is overflowing,” Brown wrote. “The number of deaths in our community attributed to overdosing or long-term substance abuse has skyrocketed.”

Brown reported that he has written stories “on school teachers, politicians, and otherwise ‘good’ community members who have fallen victim to this demon. . . . I feel we should be directing much more of our attention to this matter and exploring ways we can help curb the spread of addiction and provide our community members with information on helping themselves and/or family members through the limited available avenues of recovery.”

The workshop will be held at the Marriott Delta Downtown from 8:30 a,m. to 5:15 p.m. Nov. 15. space is limited, and the earlybird registration rate of $50 is good until Nov. 1. Registration will close Nov. 8. Click here to register.

The presenters include Pulitzer Prize winners Eric Eyre of the Charleston Gazette-Mail and Terry DeMio and Cara Owsley of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Beth Macy, award-winning author of Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America, will appear via Skype. Sharon Burton, editor and publisher of the Adair County Community Voice in Columbia, a national leader in substance-abuse coverage by weeklies, will discuss her recent efforts.

“The lineup of presenters for the workshop have the background and experience to arm journalists with the information we need to do the job we should be doing,” Brown writes.

Research by ORAU has shown that the stigma attached to drug use and addiction are major obstacles to news coverage of the problem, which makes it harder for communities to find solutions.

The workshop will be preceded by informal gathering at the Delta hotel on Thursday evening, Nov. 14. A room block with a favorable rate of $109 a night is available at the Delta. The registration site has a link to the hotel reservation site. Please contact Institute Director Al Cross with any questions: al.cross@uky.edu.