By Mya Green ’17

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Nov. 29) – The Fall 2016 ViewFinder team is tackling the untold stories of the heroin crisis in Anne Arundel County. The students attended workshops, forums, and created connections with county officials to gain insight and context for their stories.

In September, team members attended the Poynter “Covering the Opioid Crisis” Workshop at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The event featured Baltimore’s Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen, Debra Houry from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Harriet Ryan from the LA Times, CEO of Fair Health Robin Gelburd and Director of National Drug Control Policy Michael Botticelli.

The speakers shared information about the heroin crisis from their area of expertise. Dr. Wen shared some startling facts about how heroin is affecting people and the health climate in Baltimore. She stated that more people are dying of overdoses than homicides. She said she makes it a point to speak at events like this because she wants to educate people about the various forms of treatment that are available now. She gave a demonstration on how to administer the emergency drug Naloxone, which is used to treat narcotic overdoses in emergency situations.

Then, journalists from all over the country were given the opportunity to share the projects they’ve been working on as it related to opioids and addiction. They emphasized the importance of the event and how they appreciated the guidance it provided when covering such a sensitive topic.

In addition to the Poynter workshop, ViewFinder’s Alexandra Simon attended the Tri-County Opioid Summit in Anne Arundel County. County executives from Howard, Harford and Anne Arundel Counties outlined their plans to address the growing opioid crisis. Also, sports commentator Keith Mills talked about his struggle with beating his addiction to pain pills.

ViewFinder’s fall team is once again partnering with the University of Maryland PALS program (Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability) so this event gave the team some important information on how the county is handling the issues its’ currently facing.

Attending these events not only helped the ViewFinder students in Bethany Swain’s Advanced Video Storytelling capstone class produce stories, but also allowed them to be at the forefront of covering a nationally relevant topic.

The fall ViewFinder team looks forward to seeing you at their screening on December 8th, 2016 at 7:30 pm in Tawes 0302.