Graham Media Group, Inc., a Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC) subsidiary, announced today that it will launch a comprehensive initiative examining the opioid crisis in America, focusing on the local communities the station group serves. Graham Media Group’s “Opioid Nation: An American Epidemic” is a multi-platform commitment addressing the epidemic that is unraveling communities and destroying American lives. Each of the seven Graham Media Group (GMG) stations will air investigative reports, produce original programming, facilitate digital engagement, broadcast public service announcements and work with community partners on effective outreach.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids has quadrupled with more than 500,000 deaths between 2000 and 2015. Today, 91 Americans die every day as a result of opioid abuse.
GMG stations will investigate the genesis of the crisis, the lives of those faced with addiction, and the historic and current governmental policies that address the ongoing abuse epidemic.
“Opioid addiction is ravaging our communities big and small and local broadcasters are uniquely positioned to tell these stories. The diversity of issues affecting our Detroit community differs from those in Houston and Orlando,” said Emily Barr, president and chief executive officer of Graham Media Group. “For instance, Martinsville, Virginia is first in the nation in per-capita opioid prescriptions and WSLS, our nearby Roanoke station, is faced with stories every week about a drug problem that is only getting worse. We can tell that story and engage our community partners who are skilled and ready to offer help and hope.”
GMG stations will air locally produced, televised and streamed specials during the week of September 5. Along with original programming, stations will staff phone banks and Facebook Live sessions designed to connect viewers, users and families with substance abuse counselors. Town hall meetings and monthly in-depth reports will drill down on the specific issues that contribute to this public health crisis.
“We’re pooling resources and exchanging stories amongst our newsrooms to give depth and perspective to the many facets of the problem,” continued Barr.
Car crashes of those who tested positive from prescription drugs have increased 700% over the last 20 years according to a 2017 study by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. The over prescription of opioids from doctors has steadily risen and fatalities due to heroin continue to tear apart families across all demographics. Graham Media Group joins the National Association of Broadcasters in their dedicated efforts to shed light on the severity of the opioid epidemic.
“It is our responsibility to inform viewers and we hope that ‘Opioid Nation: An American Epidemic’ will not only educate the communities we serve, but help those who are effected find a path forward through this unprecedented crisis,” said Barr.