The staff might not have been prepared for the celebration, but that wasn’t the case for putting the story together. The entire process involved a high level of coordination and organization, including lots of data spreadsheets, several terabytes of raw footage on five hard drives, storyboards and plenty of teamwork.
The “Seven Days of Heroin” story began three years ago when reporter Dan Horn came up with the idea to do a more substantial story on the city’s heroin problem. The issue wasn’t going away, though viewer and reader fatigue were worrisome. What would the paper’s audience value? What would the community learn from another heroin story?
“We originally thought it’d be a few days, and then life happened, and years passed, and it continued to be something on Dan’s list,” Cochran said. “Finally, our editor at the time said to go for it, and it became ‘Seven Days.’”
Meg Vogel, an Ohio University graduate who initially interned at the Enquirer in 2011 before being hired in 2014, was the assistant producer on the video.
“There were plans to make phone calls, to collect stats, to do ride-alongs,” Vogel said. “We had at least one ride-along planned every day because you can’t predict when you’re going to be with an EMT team when something happens.”
Dufour and Cochran worked full time on the story during the seven-day stretch. Cochran said they wanted the day, night, morning and everything between. They worked closely with reporter Terry DeMio, who also narrated the video.
“I requested all of the 911 digital logs, only using the ones that happened in public spaces,” Cochran said.
“There was some concern for privacy, obviously, but also it told you just how bad this problem is that you can be at the library, and there’s an overdose happening in the children’s section and in the parking lot,” she said.
The 911 calls were important to identify locations that are usually quiet, serene places that had become overdose scenes. The B-roll of these locations as they returned to normal helped reinforce the fact that the overdoses were happening everywhere.