On the Trail of Addiction

Researchers map drug users’ moment-to-moment experiences as they travel the urban landscape.

By some measures, Baltimore has more heroin users than any other American city. Yet we don’t really see them. They are a part of the city’s complex drug economy: They are buyers and sellers, participants in treatment programs, inhabitants of jail and prison. Full Story »

Posted by Mary Hartney - via Urbanite
Andrew Hazlett
4.0
by Andrew Hazlett - Mar. 11, 2011

Fascinating explanation of a striking, almost art-like survey of Baltimore's most intractable problems.

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Gin Ferrara
4.0
by Gin Ferrara - Mar. 11, 2011

Relevant and revelationary - this story educates us about the potential new tools to track addiction. Often this type of research is documented in a journal or other weighty tome, and difficult to engage with as a layperson. I appreciate the Urbanite's effort to share in-progress research with us. The charts are very informative and add to the story. Even more data would be welcome. My only negative is that the opening paragraph makes assumptions based on personal opinion - "Yet the “junkies” hide away in our ideological predispositions, our moral judgments, and our assumptions about how addiction works."

“you have neighborhoods that have drugs without violence, but not many neighborhoods that have violence without drugs.” More »

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Jackey
4.0
by Jackey - Mar. 28, 2011

Draws the attention of the audience with pictures and data that is relevant to the story.

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Mandie Boardman
3.7
by Mandie Boardman - Mar. 14, 2011

I think this article shows a lot of great research and definitely includes multiple sources to back up the claims. It did a good job of presenting the side of the researchers, but I would have loved maybe a quote or two from an actual addict or a participant in the study. I don't think this article was very well written, however. While the author paints a good picture, it takes way too long to get to the most interesting parts of the story, and I think several paragraphs could have been heavily edited down without losing the story. As a Baltimore resident, I am very interested in this topic, but I wonder if you had less of an interest would you have stuck around to see where the article was going?

I would love to see a follow up story to this piece to see where the research goes and what the outcome is--if any.

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Dave Ottalini
4.0
by Dave Ottalini - Mar. 17, 2011

A terrific piece of journalism. The first paragraph hooks the reader into continuing that leads into a very strong quote from the UCLA professor. Interesting use of technology to really build a base of information that, as the author lays out, may ultimately lead to some real solutions in dealing with drug use (and thus, violence) in Baltimore.

Well researched, excellent quotes, great piece of work by someone who does not appear to be a trained journalist. Does require a careful read as this piece does not speak down to its readers. I would look forward to other stories in this series. Amazing graphics that correlate drugs, violence and race. This would made a great visual story, I think

“We are not really interested in where someone used, but where they decided to use” Preston says, “because that is where you could do an intervention.” More »

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Rebecca Wilson
3.9
by Rebecca Wilson - Mar. 13, 2011

This article does a great job of explaining a fairly complex study in layman's terms with enough detail for the reader to be able to understand it without feeling overwhelmed. It provides the context of what is currently known about addiction treatment and how this research may contribute to that understanding without jumping to conclusions about how that knowledge might be translated into public policy. The only reason I ranked it as "unbalanced" is that it does not try to present critics of this approach or to evaluate its shortcomings or limitations, but that might not be appropriate content to include in this type of story.

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Anthony Herman
3.1
by Anthony Herman - Mar. 16, 2011

This story presented some good scientific information but did so in a poor way. The writing was extremely difficult to follow and the paragraphs were far too long, preventing an easy read of the article. In addition, while the maps provided some good visual data, they were not talked about enough in the article. Finally, the story served more as an advertisement for the story than an honest discussion of its strengths and limitations.

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Alan Brody
3.8
by Alan Brody - Mar. 13, 2011

Interesting insight and unique angle in looking at what's being done locally to combat the drug problem. Good job reaching out to the expert at Yale, which provides some national context outside of the local market.

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Katie Crawford
3.9
by Katie Crawford - Mar. 15, 2011

This is good journalism because the reporter does a good job helping us to simply understand the research that is going on about addiction.

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Briana Boyington
4.0
by Briana Boyington - Mar. 15, 2011

This is good journalism because the story was well written, well sourced and effectively supplemented with photos and graphics. The story explained the research in an easily understandable way. The addition of maps at the bottom were a great way to both graphically accommodate the story and help an audience who may be unfamiliar with drug use in Baltimore see the data that the researches are using to compile and analyze their work.

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Elizabeth Klinck
3.5
by Elizabeth Klinck - Mar. 11, 2011

As far as fairness, sources, and bias, this story is an example of good journalism. The reporter interviewed the main players in the study but also outside experts in the field. Unfortunately, the story itself is written rather poorly. The paragraphs are too long and technical and the story takes too long to get to what I think the nut graf is. I feel that the mapping technology is the most interesting part of this story and should be up way higher. This story could have used an editor with some serious hacking abilities because it's just way too long and buliky.

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Chris Grady
4.0
by Chris Grady - Mar. 16, 2011

This is a very interesting story that people would generally be unaware of. It does a great job of thoroughly reporting the story in a way that does not make it overly complex.

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Fiona Weeks
4.0
by Fiona Weeks - Mar. 15, 2011

Explains relevancy, breaks down a scientific concept for easy comprehension and has numerous sources. Good journalism.

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Matt Ford
3.8
by Matt Ford - Mar. 8, 2011

This is good journalism for several reasons. First, it takes scientific studies and processes that may be difficult to understand and explains them. Second, it uses several sources. Third, it discusses a local story that is relevant to anyone who lives in Baltimore. Lastly, it is enterprising, because it goes in-depth with addiction research and shows how new research is different, and how it will add to the discussion about addiction. I'm not in love with the writing of this story, but the content makes it worth it.

The story is fair, relatively compelling and balanced. I really liked seeing the maps of crime and race at the bottom of the page, because the story mentions them very early on. It's nice to give the reader the pictures in addition to the information. I also liked, from a research standpoint, getting the methodology of the studies in the story. I wouldn't recommend this story, necessarily, because it's just not that well-written. The paragraphs are often obscenely long for the web ... More »

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Christine Jubert
4.0
by Christine Jubert - Mar. 15, 2011

This story does a good job of explaining the research conducted and makes clear that the research process is in the early stages.

See Full Review » (11 answers)
Danielle Chazen
4.0
by Danielle Chazen - Mar. 8, 2011

Danielle Chazen This is good journalism because it is well sourced with reliable, credible quotes from professionals with expertise in this area. It is not opinionated, but explains the methods of gathering information on this topic. The graphics included at the bottom are also very informative and present the information in an innovative, visual way.

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Peter Tartaglione
4.0
by Peter Tartaglione - Mar. 13, 2011
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Renee Poussaint
2.6
by Renee Poussaint - Mar. 17, 2011

This is not good journalism. The story is packed with dense scientific jargon which is difficult for the average reader to understand. There are several unsupported statements made to justify the need for the study: - Drug users and use hav been exhaustively studied, what is it that is still not understood which can truly make a difference, and what would the difference be in human terms? - Story indicates the study focuses on "heroin" users specifically. This is a distinct, limited part of the drug community that brings with it issues of economics and race. Race is not dealt with in the story, however, a poorly reproduced, confusing black and white illustration with the word "race" is included, but not explained. ... More »

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Ethan Rothstein
3.3
by Ethan Rothstein - Mar. 15, 2011

The piece is compelling and incredibly well written. It paints a gripping story with wonderful structure and a careful narrative. However, it's journalistically unsound. The only sources are the doctors conducting the study and one doctor who's worked in the same field. The story makes brief mention of policy, but doesn't make any mention of what the policy actually is. There is no depth into what kind of research has been done before, only acknowledging that a study of this nature is the first of its kind.

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Nick Alexopulos
3.6
by Nick Alexopulos - Mar. 20, 2011

On these maps, Craig plots the paths of drug users as they move through the city, weaving in the information they’ve plugged into their PDAs. The result is a detailed ... More »

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Deborah J Nelson
3.8
by Deborah J Nelson - Mar. 20, 2011

This is a story on an interesting study that isn't far enough along to be able to say whether it's an important study. It's well written but might have benefited from a little more skepticism on the part of the reporter -- not to cast doubts but to better present the challenges in collecting reliable data and interpreting it.

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Kristen Foca
4.0
by Kristen Foca - Mar. 14, 2011

I found this article particularly informational because it used many sources. Researchers and scientists from different universities and facilities were quoted giving detailed information backing the topic of the article.

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Catlin Nalley
4.0
by Catlin Nalley - Mar. 9, 2011

This story provides a lot of detail on the research taking place and is strongly sourced. Several experts are quoted and the methods being used in the research are clearly outlined. Overall, I believe this is an example of good journalism because it is highly factual and unbiased.

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Emily Winemiller
3.6
by Emily Winemiller - Mar. 15, 2011

As far as journalism goes, this story was a good. It used a lot of sources and gave good information and insight about heroin addiction in Baltimore. However, I do not think this story was necessarily very interesting and was entirely too long-winded.

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Jenna Shulman
4.0
by Jenna Shulman - Mar. 14, 2011

I think this is a great example of good journalism due to its sources and graphs. We always hear about the corrupted city of Baltimore but never really have facts to back it up. This article sources reputable people including a professor and Biostatistician. It mentions the progress of the researchers' work and writes about what is in store for drugs in the city. The maps that you can choose to enlarge also make a great addition. They also have sources on the bottom of them, proving to the reader that they are reputable maps.

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Sara Newman
3.1
by Sara Newman - Mar. 15, 2011

This story gets a 50% rating in fairness, in my opinion. Of the four sources used in the article, two are professors and two are researchers; Mark Kleiman, UCLA; Dr. David Epstein, National Institute on Drug Abuse; Dr. Kenzie L. Preston, National Institute on Drug Abuse and Rajita Sinha, Yale University. The story uses sources directly related to the experiment, it's based on researchers' data-mining method and the sources are the researchers. The author didn't source any law-enforcement professionals to see if they think the data or research will be practical or useful, which is problematic for the story's fairness.

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Amy Rebecca Pfeiffer
3.6
by Amy Rebecca Pfeiffer - Mar. 12, 2011

This is decent journalism. I would have liked to hear from a participant in the program. to balance it out.

I think is a great idea. I would have liked to see more of their crime stat observations. I think the study has a lot of limitations that should have been included. Also, investigator disclosures should have been included.

"There are significant studies of animals, about how they move and where they move in particular environments. We wanted to do something similar with our human ... More »

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Margaret Ellen Talev
3.3
by Margaret Ellen Talev - Mar. 13, 2011

This is a really interesting subject, but the story left me wanting to hear from at least one or two of the addicts out there with the PDAs. Maybe that's coming in a subsequent story, but if so, I'd like to know that.

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Lucy Qian
4.0
by Lucy Qian - Mar. 9, 2011

There are citations and people you can look up.

That this is sort of old news and I'm kind of surprised that they're only talking about this.

For example says Epstein, in Baltimore “you have neighborhoods that have drugs without violence, but not many neighborhoods that have violence without drugs.” More »

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Christine Huang
4.2
by Christine Huang - May. 8, 2011

It's pretty much all factual, but there's a lot of groundbreaking content reported, so it's definitely an interesting read, overall.

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Kaitlyn Carr
4.0
by Kaitlyn Carr - Mar. 9, 2011

This story is an example of good journalism. It is well written and very insightful. It features quotes for a variety of people and presents different sides to the issues of drug use.

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Yarelis Morales
3.6
by Yarelis Morales - Mar. 8, 2011

While I found the subject of the article to be interesting, I felt the article was poorly written. As someone who is in their last semester of college, I find it worrisome that I was having problems following the article at times. The article also did not do a good job of pulling in the reader. The most interesting parts of the article were towards the middle and end. Had I not been reading this to review it, I honestly would have stopped after reading the first two paragraphs. I would not recommend the article to someone else to read. At most I would tell them what the article was about, but I wouldn't recommend them to read it for themselves.

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Michael Andrews
3.7
by Michael Andrews - Mar. 24, 2011

As far as I can tell, the story is factual and presents the information fairly, making it good journalism. When you read a story on a topic about which you are not very familiar, you have to take the journalist at his word to a certain extent. This story did not raise any potential ethical concerns about this new tracking system. I would expect a new study such as the one described here would have serious ethical and privacy implications. Presumably the subjects all agreed to this study, but the issues are not even brought up in the article.

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Jeff Newman
4.2
by Jeff Newman - Mar. 15, 2011

Really interesting. Nothing to really be "fair" about, though.

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3.8

Good
from 43 reviews (17% confidence)
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3.9
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4.0
Fairness
3.8
Information
4.0
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3.3
Sourcing
3.7
Style
3.6
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4.0
Balance
2.0
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3.6
Depth
3.6
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3.5
Expertise
4.0
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4.0
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3.8
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2.7
Responsibility
4.0
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3.7
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3.6
Credibility
3.8
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