Monday, March 05, 2018

Bristol Herald Courier package on opioid-addicted babies in Virginia and Tennessee up for Scripps Howard award

The Bristol Herald Courier is getting some well-deserved attention for its comprehensive news package "Addicted at Birth," about the effects of the opioid epidemic on its youngest victims. The package, up for a Community Journalism award in the Scripps Howard Awards, features stories, a glossary and Q&A sheet, photo galleries, videos, a word cloud, podcasts, charts and statistics.

Herald Courier City Editor Susan Cameron writes that she became interested in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome four years ago because of comments by Tennessee's Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus in an article she edited. She was "startled" when Staubus said northeastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia have some of the highest rates in the nation for infants born addicted to opioids. Since then, the Herald Courier has done dozens of stories about NAS, often interviewing Staubus, and in February he spoke to the paper's staff as they began researching the Addicted at Birth series. Check out the package here.

Every employee in the newsroom had a hand in the package, Cameron wrote: "Over the last seven months, the news team delved into every angle of the heartbreaking plight of these babies. Dozens of people were interviewed and much time was spent compiling and analyzing the numbers. The writers, photographers and editors spent hundreds of hours on the nearly 30 stories, compelling photographs, graphics, video and searchable databases."

The other two finalists in the Community Journalism category are "Home Sick" by the Capital News Service in College Park, Md., and "Shadow Land: How Rape Stays Hidden in Oklahoma" by The Frontier, an online startup in Tulsa. Scripps Howard winners will be announced on March 6 at 2 p.m.

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