A Thoughtful Approach to Covering Addiction

This was one of my favorite lectures of the semester given that we learned so much about the process of developing feature content on addiction and recovery for mainstream outlets from the two journalists that spoke in class. Elana Gordon is a public health reporter for WHTY The Pulse who offered some really deft insights into the nuances of developing stories in this space. There is a sensitivity to the population affected, while also a passion for finding new and revealing angles to consider in what can be a saturated content space amid this wave of opioid issues.

It was interesting to note as Gordon left the health care industry to enter journalism, Morgan Zalot is now working at Temple in the health field after having started her career in broadcast journalism. Zalot was a producer at NBC 10 and a reporter for the station’s epic content endeavor, Generation Addiction. The challenges of reporting in this content space were compelling to consider, as a respect for language and context in order to remember these are people facing addiction. We too often find sensationalized addiction content without any premise of solution or recovery.

Gordon stressed research as a foundation of good journalism; to really understand the topic and find new ways to discuss and investigate the space.

I appreciated hearing the TV news side of things, as there is a good deal of discretion and mindfulness to the disease than I would have assumed. The idea that Zalot thought her crew should have had Narcan was interesting, as they had the resources and presence in places where that could have helped.

I’ll be on the lookout for Gordon’s work and have enjoyed the parts of Generation Addiction that I’ve watched. Dispelling stigmas and advancing a discussion to the solutions stage requires a thoughtful newsroom.

About the author

Jim McCormick

For the past decade, Jim McCormick has worked as an analyst covering the NFL and NBA for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. From 2009 to 2010, he served as a regular panelist for The Washington Post’s online NFL platform, The League. In addition to written content for The League, Jim conceived and produced the interview podcast series, “Behind the Helmet.” From 2011-2012, Jim was the lead high school football editor for ESPN.com. Jim also served as an editor and co-publisher of the nationally distributed BLITZ Magazine from 2006 to 2010 in what was a broad learning experience as a media entrepreneur. Contact Jim at tua60748@temple.edu.

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