BOSTON — Today WGBH News and The GroundTruth Project launch a new season of their award-winning podcast, “GroundTruth.” The five episodes are part of a reporting project called “The Fix,” which explores what’s behind the growing opioid epidemic, what’s being done about it and how denial and stigma continue to fuel a record number of overdose deaths.
In this season, GroundTruth’s team of reporting fellows reveal how the opioid epidemic currently in the headlines is actually America’s second opioid crisis. The first began decades earlier and still thrives in the inner city. The South Bronx, New York City’s poorest neighborhood, has been grappling with a deadly heroin epidemic for generations. Twenty-five miles away, in the mostly white, blue-collar community of Staten Island, a surge in prescription painkillers laid the foundation for a new heroin epidemic.
These two very different boroughs – the Bronx and Staten Island – share an ugly statistic: the highest rates of opioid overdose deaths in New York City. And, as this reporting journey proved, the two communities have much to learn from each other. New medical approaches – and new twists on some old approaches – are being explored through different medical experts and treatment programs. The fellows also report on efforts to change the culture of addiction treatment on Long Island where the death rate from opioid overdose has risen the fastest in New York State.
“The Fix is an extraordinary example of what we call ‘groundtruth,’ or just good, old-fashioned street reporting. The reporters and editors on this project present a series that offers compelling lessons to learn in the long battle against opioid addiction from the Bronx to Staten Island,” said Charles Sennott, founder and executive director of The GroundTruth Project.
The GroundTruth reporting fellows are recent graduates of the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. The project was made possible through support from the Northwell Health Foundation. The fellows’ reporting focuses on how the old and new opioid epidemics in New York City mirror the national opioid crisis that continues to take a record number of lives.
“The Fix” tells the story of how the stigma of addiction has forced neglected communities in the South Bronx to pioneer opioid treatment programs that are well ahead of most of the rest of the country. The series also explores how that same stigma is preventing the suburban communities of Staten Island from fully confronting the growing number of opioid overdose deaths in their suburban neighborhoods. The reporting reveals how the medical community’s own stigma about substance abuse can prevent patients from getting the addiction treatment they need, and looks at a new training program aimed at fixing that.
WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web. Television channels include WGBH 2, WGBX 44, and the digital channels World and Create. WGBH Radio serves listeners across New England with 89.7 WGBH, Boston’s Local NPR®; 99.5 WCRB; and WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR® Station.
The WGBH News team draws on the talent of a multi-platform newsroom that includes radio, television and digital reporting. The newsroom continues to invest in quality, substantive news coverage with local context and crafting the stories that only public media can tell.
About The GroundTruth Project
The GroundTruth Project is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and inspiring a new generation of journalists. Based at WGBH in Boston, GroundTruth focuses on social justice issues and publishes in-depth, multimedia reporting. These projects reach a wide audience through a host of editorial partnerships including PRI’s The World, PBS NewsHour, NOVA, MSNBC, Huffington Post, The Atlantic and others.
About The Northwell Health Foundation
Committed to discovery and research, high-quality patient care and training future generations of health care leaders, the Northwell Health Foundation is leading the country in transforming how to take care of patients and to keep them well. The foundation’s goal is simple: to not only raise our standard of health care but the standard of health care. The Northwell Health Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Northwell Health, a health care network of 21 hospitals and more than 450 outpatient practices that touch more than 1.8 million people in and beyond metro New York.
rrohr (at) thegroundtruthproject.org