PNA Calendar of Events

2017 Sharon Johnson Memorial Workshop - Covering Pennsylvania's Opioid Epidemic

  • Date: Nov 16, 2017 - Nov 16, 2017
  • Location: Harrisburg
  • Address: PNA Foundation, 3899 N. Front St
  • Contact: PNA Foundation
  • Email:
  • Phone: (717) 703-3000


Pennsylvania is ground zero for the nation’s raging drug crisis, ranking among the states highest in overdose deaths. It’s a story all of us have been covering for years as the problem continues to escalate.

This year, the Sharon Johnson Workshop at PNA will focus on new and compelling ways to report on the epidemic touching all our communities.

We’re fortunate to have John Fetterman, the unconventional mayor of Braddock, PA, as our keynote speaker. Fetterman has drawn national headlines in his battle to restore the economically ravaged steel town now struggling with the opioid crisis.

The day will also include panels of front-line responders and survivors and a look at innovative coverage from journalists across the state. We’ll also discuss the potential for a statewide project bringing added attention to this epidemic.

The workshop is geared toward reporters, editors and all newsroom managers. We hope you can join us for this important discussion.

The Sharon Johnson Workshop is sponsored annually, in conjunction with the PA NewsMedia Association Foundation, by PA Media Group in honor of the late Patriot-News arts writer. The cost to attend remains a low $19 and includes lunch. To register, contact the PNA Foundation at or (717) 703-3000. Deadline is Nov. 10. 

2017 AGENDA  (We will update as new commitments are added.)

Workshop runs from 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.  Registration and coffee available at 8:45 a.m.  Welcome and introductions begin at 9 a.m.

THE SURVIVORS, 9:10 to 10:10 a.m. - All these individuals have seen touched, one way or another, by the effects of drug abuse. So what did they know then and what do they know now, and what can they tell us about how we can better cover this crisis now and in the future? We’ll find out from this panel.

Confirmed Panelists:

Wendy Loranzo, lost her daughter in March 2017 and has started the Elizabeth Loranzo i Care Foundation to promote addiction awareness.

Vicki Gladfelter, lost her son Bob in April 2014 and has started the York County chapter of Not One More, which exists to share information and help.

Christine Campbell, whose twin daughters survived heroin addiction, thanks to methadone.

Mark McCullough, recovering addict.

Moderator: Jere Gish, WGAL co-anchor

BREAK, 10:10 to 10:20 a.m.

KEYNOTE: UNDERSTANDING THE REALITIES OF THE CURRENT CRISIS, 10:20 to 11:20 a.m. - John Fetterman is a Harvard University Kennedy School of Government graduate and the son of a wealthy York family. In 2001 he moved to Braddock to start a GED program in a city where nearly half the adults lack high-school diplomas. He won the Democratic mayoral primary in 2005 by one vote, and within months won an office he still holds. Last year he ran in the U.S. Senate primary against Joe Sestak and Katie McGinty. He has been asked to offer his stories and insight into reversing this upward trend of opioid usage and deaths.


BREAK, 11:20 to 11:30 a.m.

A SESSION WITH THE AG, 11:30 a.m. to 12:05 p.m. - Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania Attorney General

LUNCH, 12:10 to 12:40 p.m.

A VIEW FROM THE FRONT LINES, 12:40 TO 1:40 p.m. - All of these people come in contact with this crisis in a highly intimate way, and doing so has greatly affected their day-to-day work lives. Each is in a position to have insights about weak links in the chain. That should make them a good resource to help journalists know what they should be writing about, asking questions about, shining a spotlight on, and advocating for. Ideally, the interplay between these front liners will produce some new insights regarding the “system” for addressing this crisis, including what’s working and not working.

Confirmed Panelists:

Pam Gay, coroner, York County

Jason Campbell, chief paramedic and CEO, South Central EMS

Dr. Jennifer Chambers, Capital Blue Cross, an expert in treatment/paying for treatment

Steven Junkin, Hampden Twp. police chief and former commander of Troop H and State Police in Cumberland County

John Wetzel, Pa. Secretary of Corrections

Moderator: Valerie Pritchett, reporter and anchor, ABC27 News

BREAK, 1:40 to 1:50 p.m.

BEST IDEAS, 2 to 2:50 p.m. - We looked around the region and tried to find the reporters and news organizations that have approached coverage of the topic with energy and innovation. It’s a great chance to promote a discussion on coverage, in terms of using shrinking resources more wisely and creatively.

Confirmed Panelists:

Mike Newell, reporter, Philadelphia Inquirer

David Maialetti, photographer, Daily News

Susan Baldrige, reporter, LNP Media Group and LancasterOnline

Megan Guza, reporter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Eric Scicchitano, reporter, The Daily Item, Sunbury

Moderator: Lara Greenberg, weekend anchor and reporter, WHP-21

MIMICKING THE BAY AREA’S HOMELESSNESS PROJECT, 3 to 3:20 p.m. - Last year, the San Francisco’s Bay Area media tried something unique to address a worsening problem there: homelessness, organizing a one-day collaboration that was heavy on elevating awareness and offering solutions. We’d like to talk about trying the same experiment across Pennsylvania with opioids.

Download the complete agenda.

For 30 years, Sharon Johnson connected with the readers of The Patriot-News (Harrisburg) through her arts and entertainment writing. Her witty and informed style made her a must-read in central Pa. In honor of Sharon's memory, this workshop will focus on important issues or concerns on writing.  In honor of Sharon’s memory, PennLive/The Patriot-News sponsors this annual workshop through the PNA Foundation with a focus on using the latest tools to provide the best stories and coverage. Most recently, participants learned about social media strategies, sports coverage in the digital age, engaging with readers, video, watchdog journalism and enterprise reporting. Through its Pulitzer-Prize-winning efforts for local reporting, PennLive/The Patriot-News works with the PNA Foundation to coordinate this workshop. Together, we recognize that while the tools, resources, formats and products may have changed since Sharon Johnson was writing, a good story and valuable information – whether printed, tweeted or videotaped – are still what readers want.



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