PulseLine, February 19, 2016

On Monday, I went into Family Dollar and as I was coming out, I started walking across Franklin St and got half way across I fell. There were cars all around me. Thank fully a gentlemen got out of his truck, came over to me to ask if I was ok. He helped me up because I could not get up by myself. He called an ambulance for me. He and his girlfriend waited with me until the ambulance came. They also took my groceries and brought them to my home. I really feel there should be more people like this. I just wanted to thank them very much for caring and helping. Thank you.

In response to Julie Kvedar’s letter to the editor, I couldn’t agree more with Julie’s words, “Adam’s death provided a journalistic opportunity to document the stark reality of the heroin epidemic with compassion and honesty.” Hurting this grieving family is tragic enough, but propagating misinformation and furthering a stigma that only exacerbates the problem, is unacceptable. There was no incorrect information in the articles we printed.

I am writing you regarding your article about the passing of Adam Cotugno from a heroin overdose. The journalist handled this story very poorly, clearly not bothering to actually research and report, instead deciding to pander to the “tough on drugs” crowd. Anyone even remotely paying attention these days knows that mental health issues like addiction are one of the only bipartisan topics inn our country today. That and mass incarceration, which is related to the mental health crisis. The writer owes Adam’s family an apology in my opinion. Furthermore, your paper should consider a follow up that actually recognizes what the medical community and the bigger world has known for years; addiction is a disease, not a choice. And addicts are much more than their disease. My guess is that you, the staff member reading this, knows someone who is an addict. Are you judgmental or do you have empathy? Different from the vast majority of journalists, out of respect to the families, we allowed them their privacy during the immediate hours and days following their loved one’s passing. As is customary throughout the journalistic world, we utilized open and public sources of information available to us and reported the facts, as unpleasant as they may be. Additionally, the owner of The Westfield News has had conversations with some family members impacted and personally explained the reasons behind the reporting. The Westfield News Radio Show on Thursday, March 3, will be an in-depth look at the drug issue here in Westfield. Tune in Thursday March 3 from 6-8am to WSKB 89.5fm or www.wskb.org. Lastly, if you have concerns, come to our offices and speak with Mr. Berry to get informed.

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