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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Shadid Curriculum: The Killer of a Generation

Image of the exterior of "The Palm Beach Post" building
Reporters at The Palm Beach Post were 2017 finalists for the Anthony Shadid Award for Journalism Ethics.

Is putting the faces out worth the anguish that we create?

Pat Beall, Palm Beach Post

Raising Awareness of the Underserved

In 2015 in Palm Beach County, someone was dying of heroin, fentanyl and illicit morphine every other day – yet no one was talking about it.

Recognizing the magnitude of the epidemic and the number of lost lives going unreported, The Palm Beach Post filled its entire front page with a collage of every Palm Beach County man, woman and teen who died from an opiate-related death or overdose in 2015.

The Post also created a webpage filled with the same images, with added interactivity. Hovering over a face provided a summary of the person behind the picture, and clicking brought readers to a brief story of their life. Longer profiles and a breakdown of the science of addiction were included in a special 12-page addendum, in addition to a longform piece explicating the dangers of having such a devastating trend go unreported.

Joe Capozzi and Pat Beall on Their Decision to Publish


Q1: Was the Palm Beach Post justified in using images of opioid victims in the way it did?

Q2: Were there other ways the Post could have drawn attention to the epidemic? Would they have been as effective?

Q3: In explaining the project, the Post wrote “[We] reached at least one member of the family of 60 percent of those who died. Of those, nearly 100 supported publication of their loved one’s name and another two dozen took no position. Fewer than a dozen expressed sharp objections.” Would it be permissible to use publicly available photos and reports against family wishes?