Late last year, the Concord (New Hampshire) Monitor ran a series of stories in which reporter Meg Heckman used her own struggles with hepatitis C as a lens through which to examine the nation’s epidemic. Now, she’s shared the lessons she learned during her effort as both reporter and source in a Poynter article. If you’re not familiar with the story, I recommend taking three minutes to review the the video piece that accompanied the story. The final 90 seconds, in particular, really get to the heart of Heckman’s internal conflict.
The lessons Heckman took from the experience include the vulnerability of becoming a news source, the importance of structuring your story both for web and print, and the ins and outs of researching (and then exposing) your own personal and medical life.
In an ongoing series, reporter Elaine Grant of New Hampshire Public Radio has worked to inform the public about prescription drug abuse in the state and to put personal faces on all facets of the epidemic, from addict to dealer to physician. She also addresses possible solutions, noting that New Hampshire is one of 11 states that don’t have a prescription monitoring program, a fact Grant attributes to lobbying by the state pharmacy board and privacy advocates (who also oppose a collection program for unwanted prescriptions).
The first four stories in the series have already been filed:
While there is no shortage of solid reporting on the scope and impact of the problem, the real stars of the series are Grant’s anecdotal sources: a recovered addict who ran away from home at age 15 and for years easily swiped prescription drugs and anything and everything else that could make her high, a young mother who deals a few pills to make ends meet, a 70-year-old man who sold his entire prescription every month because he needed the money even more than he needed the pain relief, a college kid who fed his opiate addiction by going from doctor to doctor and hospital to hospital and a doctor who prescribes to suspected addicts because he fears them.