The Palm Beach Post’s special report, Heroin: Killer of a Generation, has been named one of the top 15 works of journalism from across the country by the profession’s top trade magazine, Columbia Journalism Review.
The magazine praised The Post for doing the “heavy lift” of covering the growing opioid epidemic in profiling each of the 216 people who died in Palm Beach County of heroin-related overdoses in 2015.
“The project succeeds in forcing readers to grapple with how overdose deaths comprise not just a shocking statistic, but a collection of unique human stories,” the magazine stated.
Among those who died were a hero of Hurricane Sandy, a former assistant state attorney, a veteran who survived Iraq but couldn’t beat heroin as well as a yo-yo prodigy. The Post sought to dispel the stigma surrounding opioid addiction for both the addicts and their families.
The newspaper not only showed the faces of those lost to the epidemic but also told the stories about the lives of each and every person who died.
CJR earlier this month wrote a full article on the project, which was put together by a team of investigative reporters and editors, photographers, a researcher and graphics and design experts at The Post.
In the wake of the publication of the special report and The Post’s exclusive coverage of the addiction treatment industry, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has asked the U.S. comptroller general to review a Palm Beach County grand jury report on sober homes to glean ideas for federal and state oversight of the addiction treatment industry.
“It’s shocking to realize that in 2015, more people died in Palm Beach County from opioids than in car accidents. Seeing the faces of these 216 victims drives home the incredible toll this epidemic is having in our state, and makes it clear the disease of drug addiction can visit any family at any time,” Rubio said in reference to the Nov. 20 Palm Beach Post front page, which was devoted solely to photos of the 216 people who died in Palm Beach County in 2015 from heroin-related overdoses.