Bottles and pills

Covering the Opioid Crisis: A Workshop for Illinois Journalists

October 27, 2017
Teaching Date
Dec. 5-6, 2017
DePaul University, Loop Campus, Downtown Chicago

A McCormick Specialized Reporting Institute
This seminar is focused on helping Illinois journalists cover the national opioid crisis.


  • Profile picture for user atompkins

    Al Tompkins

    Senior Faculty, Broadcast and Online

    The Poynter Institute

Chicago and Cook County are at the center of a national crisis. The Chicago Metropolitan area ranks first nationwide in emergency department mentions for heroin use. Cook County ranks first in the nation for percentage of arrestees testing positive for opiates. Downstate counties have seen opioid overdose cases rise between 300% to 600% in the last five years.

According to the Illinois Department of Health:

  • In Illinois, more people died from an opioid drug overdose (due to heroin and prescription opioid pain relievers) in 2014 than from homicide or motor vehicle accidents.
  • Opioid drug overdoses killed 45% more people than homicides.
  • Opioid drug overdoses killed 25% more people than motor vehicle crashes.
  • Opioid drug overdoses killed more people than people who died due to all gun-related causes (including homicide, suicide, and accidental shootings).

The workshop speakers will include:
Pat Beall, an award-winning journalist from the Palm Beach, Florida Post who will show journalists how she put a face, name and narrative on every person who died in her home county in one year. The stunning work shocked the public and officials into action.
Dr. Lewis S. Nelson, Chair of Emergency Medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and a leading national expert in toxicology. Dr. Nelson will tell journalists about alternatives that physicians are trying to avoid prescribing opioids for pain relief.
Emily Feinstein, from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, will discuss how changes in The Affordable Health Care Act could affect opioid addiction treatment.

Click here to apply.

Seminar Location: DePaul University, Loop Campus, Downtown Chicago Time: You will fly in to Chicago sometime on December 4. The workshop will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on December 5, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on December 6.

This free workshop is for journalists who cover news in Illinois, whether they are based in Illinois or in a border state. The McCormick Foundation will cover tuition, hotel and meal expenses for all participants. We welcome journalists from all media, market sizes and experience levels. We also welcome college journalism educators who will make practical use of the teaching.

Thanks to a grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, tuition, basic travel expenses and hotel costs will be covered for those whose applications are accepted.

Please commit to attending the entire seminar, participating and taking your knowledge back to your newsroom, using it in your reporting and teaching others what you learn.

In your application, we ask for an essay on why you want to come. Keep it very brief and focus on how this training will help you in your work and what you plan to do with it.

SRIs fill quickly, so don’t miss this opportunity! Without a doubt, we will have many more applicants than we will have seats, so we will choose a diverse range of media, market size and geographic location. Freelancers are welcome if their work regularly appears in media reporting. We would welcome one or two university faculty who are interested in applying this learning in the classroom. We welcome Chicago based media and have set aside a larger number of seats for them.

Apply here.

Questions or need more information? E-mail

Price: $0.00

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