WJXT/CW17 launch initiative to battle opioid epidemic

Company-wide, multi-platform commitment to address community crisis


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – WJXT, Channel 4, and WCWJ, Channel 17, have joined Graham Media Group multi-station commitment to address the opioid crisis in our communities.

"Opioid Nation: An American Epidemic" is an ongoing campaign that includes public service announcements, news reports, original broadcast specials, digital media resources, community outreach and public service announcements.

“For the past few years, News4JAX has covered how the opioid epidemic has overwhelmed Northeast Florida.  'Opioid Nation: An American Epidemic,' is a way for us to take our dedication to reporting the hard truths about addiction to the next level and work with the community to combat addiction,” vice-president and general manager Bob Ellis said.

The epidemic is so out of control that in Duval County alone, first responders are dispatched to an overdose every three hours.  In 2016, local overdose deaths doubled from the previous year.  Opioid addiction does not discriminate.  Last year, those who died from overdoses in Northeast Florida ranged in age from 20 to 60 years old.  On Aug. 31, WJXT will hold a phone bank with addiction specialists from Recovery Keys.

On Sept. 6, "Opioid Nation: An American Epidemic" premieres at 8 p.m. on Channel 4. The hour-long locally produced program features a discussion with addicts and doctors about how legal prescription drugs have become the number one health crisis facing the nation and what can be done to stop it. 

“News4JAX journalists are going to the front lines of this killer epidemic. We were granted rare access to those battling the crisis head-on.  We will show you the impact the opioid epidemic is having on local families, emergency responders, doctors and taxpayers, just to name a few,” News Director Kathryn Bonfield said. “People are dying every day and the local morgue is overrun with the lives that have been lost.  As we deal with this health emergency, this is our way of also helping search for solutions.”

“For months, News4JAX.com has covered the impact the opioid epidemic is having on local neighborhoods,” News4JAX Managing Editor Steve Patrick said. “Our site has become a place for the community to share their personal stories of addiction. It’s startling just how many families in our area have been touched by the opioid addiction, and because of that, News4JAX.com has important numbers to call for help and lists the symptoms of addiction.”

Wednesday, Sept. 6, WJXT will focus on opioid addiction in a day-long event, beginning with The Morning Show and continuing through News4JAX at 11. "Opioid Nation: An American Epidemic" will be presented at 8 p.m.  The primetime special, hosted by News4JAX anchors Kent Justice and Mary Baer will broadcast on-air and stream live on News4JAX.com at 8 p.m. Drug addiction professionals will be on hand to answer questions from our community.  An encore presentation will be shown on CW17 at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9.

For more information, go to news4jax.com/opioids.