Maia Szalavitz spoke to our class on Tuesday about how her own recovery lead her to addiction reporting. She has bylines in notable publications such as VICE, TIME Magazine and The New York Times, and even has a published book called “Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction.” She’s one of the leading reporters on the topic of addiction in the country.
Due to this, she was able to provide a lot of great advice to our class about how we should each approach our reporting on this topic. She stressed the importance of person-first language when reporting on addiction. This is something that she had to learn by unlearning her old ways and language use. People don’t realize how damaging some of the language they use can be when talking about addiction, so being that a reporter and being that catalyst for helping people to learn that type of language (i.e. not using the word addict) is so important.
She also talked about taking a scientific approach when talking about a topic such as this one. One thing she said that really stuck with me was that as a reporter, “you have to look for anecdotes that fit your data, not data that fits your anecdotes.”