Aubrey Whelan’s discussion with the class on Thursday was very informative, as she provided a good example of how we could potentially make a career out of this kind of work. Furthermore, she introduced some new ideas and statistics that I had never previously thought about. For example, she mentioned a statistic that was similar to one I found in one of her pieces published by The Inquirer stating, “About 75 percent of fatal overdoses in Philadelphia occur in private residences, largely away from public view.” This statistic is really shocking, as we tend to think of the opioid crisis in Philadelphia as being something that takes place in Kensington, and other places where one can literally see individuals using. This definitely supported her point that opioid use is not exclusive to Kennsington, the issue affects individuals all throughout Philadelphia, especially South-West Philly.
Whelan’s interview tips were very helpful. She suggested approaching individuals, specifically those struggling with opioid use or experiencing homelessness, with a specific question. While other members of the public tend to love to speak about themselves and their experiences at length with no guidance, those struggling may not be as eager. I was skeptical of her point that she felt comfortable walking around areas like Kensington alone at night. She stated something along the lines of, people live and work here, and if they’re safe I’m safe. After speaking to someone who is very familiar with the area, she insisted that it wasn’t safe to be doing that. As journalists, I think it is very important to remember that we are not invincible, and we should take precautions to ensure our safety.