Reporting on Addiction

Date:  September 29, 2023
Time: 9 a.m.
Location: Vilas Hall, UW-Madison campus

Addiction is a complicated disease that affects every community in America. In their work to cover this complex issue, members of the press can inadvertently perpetuate problematic narratives about drug use and addiction that can increase stigma and discrimination towards people with active addiction, in treatment, or in recovery.

In this free, day-long training, Reporting on Addiction co-directors Jonathan JK Stoltman and Ashton Marra will help reporters and editors build their knowledge of the science of addiction, its medical definition and how the brain disease works. Then, we take a deeper look at how addiction stigma manifests in news publications, and translate the science into tips for better reporting – from pitch to publication – that you can use today.  


  1. About the disease of addiction and how it manifests in our communities
  2. To identify addiction stigma in the news – and how to prevent the same mistakes in your newsroom
  3. About the ethics of reporting on addiction accurately 
  4. How to use Reporting on Addiction’s resources to improve your journalism, from sourcing to writing to visuals
  5. What story to cover next with direct access to local experts


Ashton Marra is the co-director of Reporting on Addiction and the executive editor of its founding partner 100 Days in Appalachia, a 2021 national Edward R. Murrow award-winning nonprofit digital publication. There, she oversees the work of a team of editors, contributors and reporters across Appalachia to create content by Appalachians for Appalachians. Ashton is also a teaching assistant professor in the West Virginia University Reed College of Media, where she teaches news writing, video storytelling and community-focused journalism. She’s spent more than a decade working as a professional journalist for both public media and commercial news outlets, on local, statewide and national platforms, including NPR and ABC News.

Headshot Jonathan JK Stoltman

Jonathan JK Stoltman is co-director of Reporting on Addiction and Director of the Opioid Policy Institute. In 2019, he completed his PhD in Lifespan Developmental Psychology from West Virginia University and has worked as a researcher focusing on opioid addiction treatment for the past decade. Jonathan’s academic work has appeared in leading journals and at national conferences. Their current work focuses on addiction stigma, the media, and digital approaches to addiction treatment.