Author Sam Quinones, Pioneering Voice on Opioid Epidemic, to Share Insight at Kent State Media Ethics Lecture

Dix Media Ethics Lecture to take place March 5, 2024
Headshot of Sam Quinones

Author and journalist Sam Quinones ignited awareness of the U.S. opioid epidemic nearly a decade ago with his award-winning book “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic” (2015). As a journalist for the Los Angeles Times and as a freelancer in Mexico, his reporting has taken him across the complex landscapes of immigration, gangs, drug trafficking and the border.

Quinones will share his journey and lessons in media ethics with Kent State students and the community at the fourth annual David and Janet Dix Lecture in Media Ethics at 7 p.m. on March 5, 2024. The talk, “Popsicle Vendors, Street Gangs and Opioids: One Reporter’s Tales of Ethics and Storytelling,” is hosted by the School of Media and Journalism (MDJ) through the generosity of David and Janet Dix, with additional support provided from the School of Information.

The lecture, which will take place in Franklin Hall Room 340 at Kent State University, is open to the public. Quinones will talk about the application of ethics in contexts like gang prevalence in the U.S. and Mexico and in his coverage of the opiate epidemic. He will also stress the importance of journalists establishing trust with both the people they interview and their audiences.

RSVP for the lecture

“Mr. Quinones’s reporting is a master class in how to tie individuals’ stories to larger national themes,” said Media and Journalism Director Emily Metzgar, Ph.D. “His work consistently demonstrates compassion for people and passion for storytelling. I’m delighted that he’s coming to MDJ to share both with our students and the community.”

The signature lecture series was launched in 2018 with an endowment gift of $100,000 from David and Janet Dix, to bring nationally recognized figures discussing critical issues in media ethics to Kent State — further enhancing MDJ’s national reputation as a leader in the field.

Following “Dreamland,” Quinones became a national voice as he spread awareness about the opioid epidemic: testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions; speaking at numerous professional conferences of judges, doctors, librarians, hospital administrators; and sharing insight at more than two-dozen town hall meetings in small towns across the country.

“Dreamland” won a National Book Critics Circle Award for Best Nonfiction Book in 2015; it’s also since been noted on “best book” lists by a dozen publications. A young adult version for seventh through twelfth graders was released in 2019.

In 2021, Quinones followed “Dreamland” with “The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth.” The book chronicles the emergence of a drug-trafficking world producing massive supplies of synthetic drugs (fentanyl and meth) cheaper and deadlier than ever, marketing to the population of addicts created by the nation's opioid epidemic.

Past guests for the Dix Media Ethics Lecture include longtime newsroom executive Mizell Stewart III, Eric Deggans (NPR) and Brian Stelter (formerly CNN). During his visit to Kent State, Quinones will take part in lectures and class discussions within the School of Media and Journalism, in addition to his keynote talk.

In 2019, David Dix said:

“We need a strong press and media that reports the news and acts as a watchdog for the American people and keeps our democracy functioning as it should. The role of ethics in accomplishing this is very important.”

POSTED: Tuesday, February 6, 2024 02:50 PM
Updated: Tuesday, March 12, 2024 01:53 PM