UTICA – The Vice President and General Manager of WUTR and the Publisher of the Utica Observer-Dispatch announced a strategic media partnership designed to explore the devastating opioid crisis currently afflicting the community. 

“Central New York: State of Addiction” is a community initiative created by the two news organizations to shed light on the causes and effects of opioid addiction, including identification, treatment and maintenance. What begins innocently with prescribed pain medications often results in heroin addiction, making opiates on of the fastest-growing substance abuse disorders in central New York and a serious public health issue.

Eyewitness News special coverage begins on Thursday, May 4th at 6 and 11 pm on WUTR. Observer- Dispatch coverage begins on Sunday, May 7th. The special reports with continue Thursdays and Sundays through May 22nd. 

“The goal of this joint campaign is to broaden awareness of the opioid crisis, better educate the public about the dangers and impacts of opiates, and begin a dialogue that can help us determine how our community can be a leader in dealing with the problem,” said Terry Cascioli, publisher of the Observer-Dispatch.

“We intend to delve into the complexities of the problem through a month-long series of TV news segments combined with in-depth, follow-up feature articles that will provide vital information and background in order to provide an overview of the crisis and offer some perspective,” Cascioli explained.

On May 24th, the informational and educational campaign will culminate in a live town hall meeting for the entire community that will include a panel of state and local government officials, law enforcement, health care organizations, the medical community, and individuals and their families who have been personally impacted by opioid addiction. This event will be held from 7-8 pm at the Dr. Michael I. Schafer Theater at Mohawk Valley Community College, and will be co-hosted by WUTR Eyewitness News anchor Mike Hoey and Observe-Dispatch reporter Amy Roth.

“We recognize that it is part of our responsibility as members of the local media to cover hometown news that matters and that impacts the daily lives of Mohawk Valley residents,” added WUTR’s General Manager Steve Ventura. “We will be concentrating our resources and efforts jointly to tackle this issue head-on. We welcome and encourage the community’s participation in solving a problem that is now at crisis levels and ultimately affects all of us.”