By March 20, 2017 Read More →

Gazette-Mail pain pill series wins second national award

Staff reports

Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Charleston Gazette-Mail reporter Eric Eyre has been named the winner of an investigative reporting award from the Association of Health Care Journalists for his stories about prescription opioid shipments to West Virginia.

Charleston Gazette-Mail journalist Eric Eyre

The association honors the best health reporting in print, broadcast and online media across the country. Other winners this year included the Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal and Chicago Tribune..

Eyre’s “Painkiller Profiteers” series tracked prescription opioids into West Virginia, following them to individual counties, pharmacies and families. The newspaper’s investigation found that drug distributors shipped 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to West Virginia in just six years, a period when 1,728 people fatally overdosed on those two painkillers.

The judges commented, “The Charleston Gazette-Mail deserves great credit for investing the time and resources needed for this type of reporting, which is a pillar of our democracy.”

Earlier this month, the stories won a Scripps Howard First Amendment Award.

The series also was one of two finalists for the 2017 Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Journalism. The Houston Post won top honors, and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune was the other finalist in that contest.

In recognizing the Gazette-Mail, the Selden Ring judges said, “This work epitomized the best of local public service journalism, taking aim at the most crucial problem afflicting the region and landing a tremendous blow. In this powerful series, the Gazette-Mail took on the pharmaceutical industry, calling out its role in fueling the epidemic.”

Selden Ring judges included Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times; Robin Fields, managing editor of ProPublica; Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post; Kevin Merida, editor-in-chief of ESPN’s The Undefeated; and 2015 Selden Ring winners Audra D.S. Burch and Carol Marbin of The Miami Herald.

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