Your Voice Mahoning Valley's mission to focus on solutions - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Your Voice Mahoning Valley's mission to focus on solutions

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

As the Valley endures the challenges that come with fighting the heroin epidemic, 21 WFMJ is partnering with other Mahoning Valley media outlets on a new approach in covering its impact.

The Vindicator, Tribune Chronicle, WKSU radio, and 21 WFMJ are joining forces to use voices from the Valley as a guide to finding solutions through the Your Voice Mahoning Valley initiative.

After almost five years of reporting on the surge of heroin use, drug-related deaths and overdoses, the headlines that follow have become routine for Valley journalists to write.

"You get to a point, what else can we do? There must be something we can do other than just report on the words, and the pictures, and the stories that we put together and get other people involved," said Mark Sweetwood, managing editor of The Vindicator

The launch of the initiative comes at a time when the region isn't seeing significant progress in reducing the number of overdose cases.

Trumbull County saw a record-breaking number of drug overdoses in the month of September, surpassing the now second-highest number totaled in March of this year.

21 WFMJ News Director Mona Alexander said now is the time to reach out to the general public and the people living in communities across the Valley to find out how they're dealing with this issue on a personal level. 

"We don't know exactly what we're going to find. We're going to process all of this information after we've talked to people and say, 'Oh, maybe we should look more into this and maybe we should look more into that,' and see if there are plausible solutions that are practical that can actually be done," Alexander said.

Linert says she and other journalists at the Tribune Chronicle see the strain the epidemic is putting on local government, law enforcement resources and the local economy. 

"It's easy to say it's not my problem, it's that addict's problem, but it really is all of our problems. We need to work together to find an answer," she said.

The community is encouraged to register online and attend one of three talk-back forums this month to join the conversation with local media reporters and editors.

Through the sharing of personal stories, suggestions, and ideas, it's hoped that Your Voice Mahoning Valley can help identify what's working, what's not and new ways to curb the crisis. 

Click here to learn more about how you can get involved.

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