NEW YORK, Jan. 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Hearst Television has announced a year-long multi-platform news and investigative series examining an epidemic ravaging communities across America. "State of Addiction" will provide reports and analysis focusing on origins of the opioid problem, treatment, government action, and people impacted in the Hearst Television station group's communities.
Joining with Hearst Television in the effort is the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, a national non-profit organization committed to helping families struggling with substance use. Through its network of regional offices, the Partnership will help the Hearst stations develop monthly stories and will help connect the stations' audiences to vital resources.
"Many Hearst Television stations have been focused on this national crisis for the past few years," said Jordan Wertlieb, Hearst Television President. "Now we will be expanding our efforts and devoting even more time and resources across our company to help make a difference in the communities we serve."
"As a result of the opioid epidemic, overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. There are families across the country scrambling to get help for a loved one struggling with substance use in a desperate attempt to ensure that their son or daughter is not the next statistic," said Marcia Lee Taylor, President and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. "All of us at the Partnership are grateful that the team at Hearst has committed to shed light on this epidemic and the resources that can help make a difference."
Statistics underscore the crisis nationally and in certain acutely impacted regions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 91 opioid overdose deaths occur daily in the United States, and overall U.S. overdose deaths in 2015 reached 52,404, surpassing car fatalities and gun deaths. Partnership for Drug-Free Kids' research shows that as many as one in five teens say they have taken a prescription drug without a prescription.
In Massachusetts, home to Hearst Television's WCVB-TV, Boston, the more than 1,700 confirmed and estimated cases of unintentional opioid overdose deaths for 2015 represented a near doubling of confirmed 2013 cases, per the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. New Hampshire, home to Hearst Television's WMUR-TV, Manchester, has been called "ground zero" for the crisis by a Drug Enforcement Administration deputy administrator.
"State of Addiction" is being overseen by Hearst Television's Senior Vice President of News, Barbara Maushard, and Vice President of News, Candy Altman.
"Our goal is not simply to report on this crisis but to help make a difference," Maushard said. "Local television broadcasters have the advantage of a platform that helps to personalize this problem for viewers and communities. As local broadcasters we are connected to these communities and committed to addressing the issues that threaten them. We want to have an impact with this effort."
"Opioid addiction affects people in all of our communities and across all socioeconomic strata," Altman added. "It is killing our children. We hope, by shining a light on this problem, we might be able to help save lives."
Among the many elements of the project will be local televised specials in the Hearst Television markets, followed by interactive Facebook Live sessions to connect viewers with advocates and counselors; online and social platform resources for audiences to seek information and advice; ongoing PSAs; investigative reports; a group-wide documentary featuring insights gathered throughout the country; and other efforts such as pill-collection initiatives in Hearst Television markets. Each month, in-depth reports will focus on different aspects of the crisis – from contributing factors such as sports injuries, to stories of recovery.
"State of Addiction" signals a heightened focus by Hearst Television on the opioid scourge, a focus increasingly shared among television broadcasters. In September 2016 the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), with the support of Hearst Television and other groups, announced a project to help marshal the capabilities of America's broadcasters in a coordinated effort to attack the opioid crisis through news coverage, public-service announcements (PSAs) and community education.
About Hearst Television
Hearst Television owns and operates local television and radio stations serving 26 media markets across 39 states reaching over 21 million U.S. television households. Through its partnership with nearly all of the major networks, Hearst Television distributes national content over nearly 70 video channels including programming from ABC, NBC, CBS, CW, MY Net, MeTV, This TV, Estrella and more. Hearst Television is recognized as one of the industry's premier companies, and has been honored with numerous awards for distinguished journalism, industry innovation, and community service. Hearst Television is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hearst. The Company's Web address is www.hearsttelevision.com.
About Partnership for Drug-Free Kids
Partnership for Drug-Free Kids is committed to helping families struggling with their son or daughter's substance use. We empower families with information, support and guidance to get the help their loved one needs and deserves. On our website, drugfree.org, and through our toll-free helpline (1-855-DRUGFREE), we provide families with direct support and guidance to help them address teen substance use. Finally, we build healthy communities, advocating for greater understanding and more effective programs to treat the disease of addiction. As a national nonprofit, we depend on donations from individuals, corporations, foundations and the public sector and are thankful to SAG-AFTRA and the advertising and media industries for their ongoing generosity. We are proud to receive a Four-Star rating from Charity Navigator, America's largest and most-utilized independent evaluator of charities, as well as a National Accredited Charity Seal from The Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance.