A&E Airs Documentary Based on Mass. Daily’s Reporting

By: Emily Vaughan

As part of its ?Intervention? series on addiction, A&E television network will air ?Intervention In-Depth: Heroin Hits Home,? an hour-long documentary about opiate addiction and overdose based on a series of investigative articles by The Enterprise in Brockton, Mass.

The documentary, premiering on Monday at 9p.m. (8 p.m. central), tracks heroin addiction in southeastern Massachusetts, as uncovered in the reporting by The Enterprise. ?They loved the angle so much about the small newspaper going after it that they ran with it, and we?re in [the documentary] a lot,? Managing Editor Steve Damish told E&P.

The Enterprise started work on what became a yearlong series based on anecdotal evidence that there were an unusually high number of overdoses due to heroin and OxyContin in the area. The small paper — they have just five reporters — ?had a reporter and an intern go from town hall to town hall and read death certificates,? Damish said. After six months of research they discovered that 90 people had died from opiate overdoses in one year in just the 28 communities that the paper covers. Further investigations put the number of deaths at 144 since 2004. Many were under the age of 25.

After spending the better part of a year reporting, the first series ran in March of 2007, and a second follow-up was published in December after additional reporting found that the epidemic was getting worse and more people were dying.

A&E contacted the newspaper two months ago about the documentary. The Enterprise articles had led the television network to southeastern Massachusetts, deemed one of the worst places in the country in terms of opiate addictions. Because of time constraints — they had just two months to put the documentary together — A&E used nearly all the same sources the Enterprise had profiled. They also interviewed people in the newsroom about their work on the articles.

Since the reports were published, there has been some public action, though Damish admits it has been slow. People from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Boston University?s School of Public Health, and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America came Brockton last November and held a forum. There have also been 15 high school forums and several college forums about drug addiction, and the paper sent 10,000 reprints to schools and hospitals around the area.

The paper has received accolades for its reporting, too. It was named a finalist by the Associated Press Managing Editors for their work in public service.

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