This class is one of the most impactful courses I’ve taken at Temple. I learned so much both personally and professionally. Before taking this class, I was unfamiliar with solutions journalism and struggled to see the line between journalism and advocacy. After putting in into practice, though, I realized it was more about focusing on developing the solution part of an article and giving others the tools to replicate a similar solution. After writing my solutions piece on the role trauma plays in women’s addictions, I realized it’s possible to write solutions journalism pieces without bias.

The reporting experience in this course helped me grow a lot as a person and journalist. I’m so happy to have learned what I did about reporting on this sensitive subject in a respectful manner, including what vocabulary to use, how to appropriately interview sources with addiction and how to identify them in my work. Hearing from so many guest speakers involved in different aspects of the addiction and recovery worlds vastly expanded my knowledge on addiction. I’m also glad we discussed ethics so much in this course and I’ll be able to take those skills with me as I report on other sensitive topics in my career.

Spending time in Kensington speaking with women with addiction living in the encampments was a reporting experience that will always stand out to me. At first, a couple women were unsure about speaking with me, but after I introduced myself and told them about my project and started a conversation, most were helpful and friendly. Some women opened up to me more than I could have imagined. Hearing their stories put into perspective my main takeaway from this course: people with addiction are just regular human beings who have had addiction impact their lives in ways beyond their control.

It was also a fantastic experience interviewing staff at Joseph J. Peters Institute and Interim House. Everybody was extremely helpful and welcoming from start to finish. Staff sat down with me at both locations for hours and walked me through their therapeutic processes. They helped put me in touch with clients who shared their stories of trauma, addiction and seeking out treatment with a level of honesty and reflection that moved me. I learned a ton about trauma-informed therapy like dialectical behavior therapy and the evidence-based impact it has when used to help women address their addiction.

Another powerful experience was sitting on a session of Project Dawn Court, a drug court specifically for women with addiction who have been involved with sex work. The women who were there for court were friendly to me as I sat in the court seating observing. Hearing about the progress and growth of some of the participants was very touching, and witnessing the ongoing struggles of some of the others helped me better understand the complexity and importance of the situation I was reporting on. Many Dawn’s Court participants came to court with their children, many not old enough to talk yet. For me, this highlighted the other barriers women with addiction face to getting treatment (like finding childcare) and how much more reporting there is to be done on this subject.

If you are considering taking this class in an upcoming semester, I highly recommend doing so.