After listening to Aubrey Whelan, the opioid crisis beat for the Inquirer, speak on Thursday, I think I got a more clear understanding of how to approach reporting on such a controversial, and sometimes sensitive, topic. Whelan gave the class some interesting statistics around overdose deaths as well as some of her personal experiences reporting on this crisis. Whelan reiterated that Kensington is not the only area affected by this, but rather that it is seemingly the only one that is “visible;” other counties, such as York, PA, have had issues such as their “underground needle exchange.” She also mentioned how a “drug delivery resulting in death” can be considered a homicide, which essentially means that a person who sold an illicit substance to someone who then overdosed and died is accountable for their death.
It is very clear that Whelan is comfortable in her beat and has made very good relationships with contacts that she has met. She mentioned that when she is writing a story and needs to find sources, she asks specific questions for a specific story in mind. She also said to explain to your subject the process of news and to never hide the fact that you are a reporter. Though I am still skeptical about walking around areas alone at night that are considered “high-risk” for drug use and crime (especially as a woman), I do think she is a very confident reporter and that helps her to produce good content. I also like that she said “it’s not enough to just spread awareness, you need to look at the bigger picture,” and that really resonated with me.