Local Stations. Big Impact.

Arizona Broadcasters Air "Hooked: Tracking Heroin’s Hold on Arizona"

Topic: Drug Prevention
Date Posted: 1/13/2015

On January 13 at 6:30 p.m., all Arizona television stations and most radio stations aired "Hooked: Tracking Heroin’s Hold on Arizona," an investigative report produced in English and Spanish by students at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in partnership with the Arizona Broadcasters Association (ABA). The program focuses on the growing perils of heroin and opioid use in Arizona.

Art Brooks, president and chief executive officer of the ABA, developed the idea after learning of the seriousness of the issue and organized the backing of the state’s broadcast industry.

“The scourge of heroin and opioid addiction is killing hundreds of Arizonans, and the growing problem is reaching epidemic levels,” Brooks said. “Broadcast stations are fiercely competitive, but our industry leaders are bonding together on this public danger in order to save lives.”

Student journalists analyzed data on more than 10 million Arizona hospital emergency room cases, including more than 2,000 heroin overdoses, and studied census information to find patterns in heroin abuse. The ABA has sponsored a call center that will be available during and after the broadcast.

"It is nothing short of extraordinary to have every TV broadcaster in a state come together and jointly agree to air – commercial free in a widely viewed time slot – an important piece of public service journalism," said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith. "It is a testament to the greater leadership of the Arizona Broadcasters Association and the general managers across the state and their tremendous commitment to their communities. I have no doubt that the Cronkite heroin project will make a real impact on this critical public health issue and save lives."

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