As a senior in 2017, Jacob Martin took down opposing quarterbacks eight times in 11 games, leading the Temple Owls in sacks. But it was in the spring semester, as a junior, when the journalism major Martin used his skills to penetrate the facets of drug recovery culture and the opioid crisis in the Temple journalism school’s special topics course, “Covering Addiction”. From January to May last year, Martin posted frequent reports to the group’s blog, still accessible on the web, with an emphasis on solutions to drug-use problems.
In Martin’s own words from his second blog post, “For a story to be considered a solutions piece it must not only identify the problem it has to provide detailed solution that is anchored in unmistakable evidence for why that solution may or may not work.” At the end of the year the program’s students collaborated on a magazine-style web publication called “Living Free”, for which Martin contributed a feature portrait of a Philadelphia organization offering fitness exercises as a path toward long-term recovery, and the community of recovering addicts revived by the group activity.
Martin later wrote how one of his biggest discoveries while reporting on opioid recovery was the number and diversity of solutions for people seeking sobriety or treatment: “I was very impressed by the number of way to find recovery,” Martin put in his final post. “I feel as if all we hear about is AA or NA as the only ways to get to recovery.
“I also really think that crossfit recovery should really be looked into and explored by people in this community,” the athlete Martin said. He added he still keeps in contact with the subjects of his feature, the members of the recovery crossfit gym.
The months of the course gave Martin opportunities to interview folks living with recovery, parents of children who had overdosed, a church pastor and members of his congregation, first responders who treat overdoses and doctors trying to develop anti-addiction drugs, and others involved in the front lines of the drug epidemic, all from the premises of Philadelphia, where Temple is located and which, Martin writes, is “home of the cheapest and most potent heroin on the East Coast.” Martin wrote about legal alternatives to drug penalties and ways media can improve reporting on recovery and drug issues.
“During this of course we were reminded a countless amount of times about our language when writing and conducting interviews,” Martin wrote on his blog. “You never know what people may be sensitive too, so using the correct language was key. I also found that people within long-term recovery have there own words and phrases that they have deemed to appropriate language.”
Drafted by the Seattle Seahawks, Martin joins a group of players who have been active at problem-solving in the community, from Russell Wilson’s hospital visits to Cliff Avril’s efforts to build homes in Haïti. Who knows? Maybe Martin’s activities in his journalism course helped attract Pete Carroll and John Schneider on their new quest for high-character prospects. As a professional football player, Martin will probably have to set his investigative reporting techniques aside for now. Still, it will be worth watching how he brings his experience with local engagement and his interest in applying solutions to Martin’s new home, the Seattle area.