Pulitzer winner shares his opioid reporting at Seigenthaler events

Opioid Trio

At the session were (left to right): Deborah Fisher, interim director of the Seigenthaler Chair; West Virginia journalist Eric Eyre, and attorney Patrick McGinley.

Pulitzer Prize-winning West Virginia journalist Eric Eyre explained to a packed Parliamentary Room on Sept. 28 how he tracked drug wholesalers’ efforts to flood his state with prescription pain relievers.

The lecture was a part of the Pulitzer Prize series sponsored by the John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies and the College of Media and Entertainment. Eyre also shared his story at the John Seigenthaler Center at Vanderbilt University that evening. The panel was led by Deborah Fisher, interim director of the Seigenthaler Chair.

The longtime journalist and statehouse reporter for the Charleston Gazette-Mail discussed his efforts to expose the influx of opioids into his state. Since his report, attorneys general in more than two dozen states, counties and cities across the United States, including three judicial districts in upper East Tennessee, have sued drug providers for their roles in the opioid epidemics in their regions.

Opioid Crowd

Eyre and McKinley spoke to a packed house on MTSU’s campus.

Eyre won the top prize for investigative reporting in April “for courageous reporting, performed in the face of powerful opposition, to expose the flood of opioids flowing into depressed West Virginia counties with the highest overdose death rates in the country,” the Pulitzer committee wrote.

Eyre’s stories, which were published in December 2016, were among the first to bring the issue to public attention, revealing shipping and other records the newspaper obtained by going to court.

Attorney Patrick McGinley, who worked pro bono with the newspaper on the stories, joined Eyre at both the MTSU and Nashville events and discussed how they obtained the data needed for the stories.

You can read Eyre’s stories at the Gazette-Mail’s website: http://ow.ly/UJNO30fr07f.

You can learn more about MTSU’s John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies at www.mtsu.edu/seigenthaler.

Opioid Crisis Poster_Graphic Only

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