Jason Henry wins DFMie with series on heroin addiction

Headline: Hooked: Drug overdose deaths surge locally
Outlet: The Morning Journal
Journalist: Jason Henry

Jason Henry of the Morning Journal won the DFMie for the Midwest region for his series on the rise of heroin addiction in the Lorain, Ohio, area.

Editor Tom Skoch explained in his nomination:

In three stories published over two days, Jason Henry’s series “Hooked” highlights a severe drug overdose death problem that has arisen locally, linked to heroin. It also shows the impact of addiction on one family, and it highlights the alarming shortage of local programs to help people overcome addiction.

The series also spotlights efforts by local officials to bring about a change in Ohio law to put an overdose antidote drug into the hands of more first-responders, such as police, to save more lives. The series was conceived and written by Jason Henry, who delivered a well-polished set of stories for publication.

Judges praised Henry’s work:

Detecting change in a community and making sense of it for readers is at the heart of good reporting. General assignments reporter Jason Henry did just that for the Morning Journal as he explored the rise of drug-related deaths in his community. He effectively used experts and victims of drug abuse to provide a clear picture of how a drug epidemic works and what it ultimately costs. He also showed how current Ohio law prevents some access to an important drug antidote. It also shows how ill-prepared communities are in taking on the spread of drug abuse.

Another judge:

Good series on an epidemic that’s affected the local community. The stories showed all facets of the problem, from the personal story of someone suffering from drug addiction and how it affects their family to problems with local programs meant to help people overcome addiction. Really good public-service journalism.

The other Midwest finalists were Oakland Press Local News Editor Julie Jacobson Hines for her leadership in producing a print-only product, “A Ride Down Memory Lane: A History of the Automobile Industry” and a Pioneer Press team for coverage of a St. Paul extreme sports event, Crashed Ice.

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