The AP team of Sydney-based global enterprise reporter Kristen Gelineau, Atlanta-based enterprise photographer David Goldman and Beijing video journalist Sam McNeil spent months carefully building relationships with opioid addicts and their loved ones to produce a richly-detailed all-formats package about opioid addiction in Australia, where stigma around addiction remains high. The stories revealed how drug companies and the Australian government have contributed to the opioid crisis, and an intimate narrative provided striking detail about the pain and impact of opioid dependency on addicts and their families.
To find the right subjects, Gelineau contacted countless rehab centers, doctors, pain groups, nonprofits and addiction specialists, combed through online forums and social media, and read through thousands of signatures on petitions related to opioid abuse. Putting the pieces together also required painstaking sifting through data from Australia’s de-centralized health system and 12 years of coroners’ reports to find early warnings about the opioid crisis.
The work resonated with readers, and the director of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, which funded the stories, called them “stellar journalism ... so well told and presented,” while Deb Ware, the mother profiled in the team’s narrative piece, wrote to Gelineau, “I’m so grateful for having met you, Sam and Goldie. You have given me a voice.”