Thought Leaders

Voices Of Authority Amidst A National Crisis

Beth Macy

Award-Winning Author of Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America

Based in Roanoke, Virginia, Beth has won more than a dozen national awards, including a Nieman Fellowship for Journalism at Harvard. Her New York Times Bestseller, Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America, has been awarded many prizes including the Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Best Southern Books of 2018, the LA Times Book Prize for Science and Technology Winner, and the American Society of Addiction Medicine Annual Media Award Winner. If you’re wondering, as the Dopesick book cover puts it, “How America embraced a medical culture where overtreatment of painkillers became the norm,” you will find the answers here. Other books recommended by Beth Macy include Pain Killer by Barry Meier, Dreamland by Sam Quinones, Drug Dealer, MD by Anna Lembke, and Big Fix by Helton Mitchell.

To learn more about Macy’s background, motivation, and lessons learned, click the button below.

Beth Macy

QUOTES

“Opioids are now on pace to kill as many Americans in a decade as HIV/AIDS has since it began.”

“The legal and medical structures meant to combat America’s heroin epidemic were woefully disconnected, often at odds with one another, and full of unintended consequences.”

“Across the nation, police chiefs and sheriffs were beginning to lament, ‘We can’t arrest our way out of this epidemic.’ That sentiment illuminated the folly of the decades long War On Drugs, in which drug users were arrested four times more often than those who sell the drugs.”

Al Cross 

Director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues

Cross helps rural news media define the public agenda in their communities and report on broader issues that have local impact but few local sources. The institute he helped organize has academic partners at 28 universities in 18 states. He became its director in 2004 after more than 26 years as a reporter at The Courier-Journal. His awards include the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame (2010), the Media Awards of the East Kentucky Leadership Foundation (2006), the James Madison First Amendment Award of the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center at UK (2015), and a share of the 1989 Pulitzer Prize won by The Courier-Journal’s staff for coverage of the nation’s deadliest bus and drunk-driving crash.

To learn more about Al Cross and the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, click the button below.

Al Cross

QUOTES

“Injecting compassion for those dealing with addiction into the criminal justice system has helped moderate the damage done, and it has helped some overcome their addictions and turn their lives around. But we’re still using the wrong tool to fix the problem.”

“Kentucky has a criminal justice system built to deal with crime, which is instead being used to deal with a health problem — addiction. Law enforcement has proven about as effective against drug addiction as doctors would be at stopping crime.”

“Community newspapers need to step up to bring awareness to the problems, not sweep them under the rug.”

John Tilley

Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Secretary

Former legislator, prosecutor, attorney, and television journalist, Tilley is nationally recognized for his work in criminal justice reform and drug control policy. He served five terms in the Kentucky House of Representatives and chaired the House Judiciary Committee where he co-chaired several joint bipartisan House/Senate task forces on criminal justice. He sponsored key pieces of legislation including the landmark criminal justice reform bill House Bill 463 which triggered a national model for change. Tilley also led efforts to combat synthetic and prescription drugs. He has traveled internationally to speak on criminal justice reform and drug control policy and has received numerous awards and national recognition.

John Tulley’s Twitter account is rich with information and valuable links. Check it out by clicking the button below.

John Tilley

QUOTES


“Supply will always meet demand. There’s a line waiting to be the next drug dealer.”

“We have decimated our country by criminalizing drug use.”

“We’ve got to stop using the criminal justice hammer on what’s really a disease. It’s high time we quit tweaking and begin with a new model using all the best practices.”

Terry DeMio

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist

On the Cincinnati Enquirer’s opioid beat for five years now, DeMio teamed with Enquirer colleagues to produce a 20-page special report featuring stories and photo spreads of local heroin users, parents, outreach coordinators, and methadone clinics. Titled Seven Days of Heroin,” the project involved over 60 reporters, photographers and videographers who went into local communities to chronicle an ordinary week in an extraordinary time. Their comprehensive look at the many faces and facilities which appear beneath the banner of the “heroin epidemic” won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting.

To read the Pulitzer-winning report, “Seven Days Of Heroin,” click the button below.

Seven Days Of Heroin Report

QUOTES

“The best way it has been put to me, I think, is that their brain has been hijacked. They are just compelled to seek this medication, or what they believe to be a medication, for withdrawals.”

“The improvements we are seeing are that we have more accessibility to evidence-based treatment. So we are seeing people getting that kind of treatment more routinely, now.”

“No treatment is for everyone. We still have a long way to go. There are more solutions needed before this becomes anything less than an epidemic.”

Eric Eyre

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist

Eyre won a Pulitzer Prize in 2017 for revealing shocking opioid distribution patterns in West Virginia even as he continued as a beat reporter covering local news for the Charleston Gazette-Mail. “We thought we were just going to be here for a year, but this paper has a history of crusading investigative reporting, strong local journalism,” says Eyre. “Our late publisher Ned Chilton coined this phrase called ‘Sustained Outrage’ and that’s sort of hammering away at an injustice until it’s righted.”

To read an interview with Eric, click the button below.

Eric Eyre

QUOTE

“What we had was the total volume of hydrocodone and OxyContin or oxycodone pills that were shipped to West Virginia over a six-year period. And when we totaled it up, there were upwards of 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills. That’s about 433 pills per person. And what was even more striking was the number of pills that went to Southern West Virginia. You had really small counties in Southern West Virginia, which is our coal region, that had five, six times more pills than a county that was eight times larger in northern West Virginia.”

Sharon Burton

Ground-Breaking Journalist and Publisher

Editor and Publisher of the Adair County Community Voice Newspaper in Columbia, Kentucky, Burton has weathered severe criticism for reporting on a problem many preferred to be left in the dark. But in the top left corner of the editorial page above her name as publisher is the sentence “Truth will prevail” followed by Luke 12:2: “For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed; neither hid that shall not be known.” Today a national leader in substance-abuse coverage among small newspapers, the Community Voice and its publisher-editor remain steadfast. “I love these farm people,” she says. “I love my hometown.” And of her dedication to truth-telling? “I grew up on Woodward and Bernstein’s thinking that we should hold government accountable. We should cheerlead the good and point out the bad.”

To read an interview with Burton, click the button below.

Sharon Burton

QUOTES

“The cost of addiction runs high. It has affected every family and every aspect of our community.”

“For people who are thinking, ‘Hey, you are writing a bunch of negative stuff about our town,’ I say it is because we love our town.”

“Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”