How to Avoid Stigmatization of Drug Users in the Media: A New Discussion Club at the SAJ

Drug trafficking and arrests of drug dealers are the topics most frequently covered by journalists when it comes to combating drug abuse. However, how does the social stigma of drug users make itself felt and what is the role of the media in covering such situations? This issue was discussed at the SAJ discussion club organized to raise the awareness of future journalists. The event was attended by Corina Popa, program coordinator of the Union for HIV Prevention and Risk Mitigation (UOHR); Elena Cioina, manager of the www.E-Sănătate.md portal; and Denis Hibovschi, representative of the drug users community.

Discussions started with a general presentation of the Union for HIV Prevention and Risk Mitigation. Corina Popa spoke about the implementation of the anti-drugs strategy in our country. Students also heard from her about the existing programs for prevention of drug use, about the funds that come from the Global Fund and about its recommendations for Moldova.

How drug users return to normal life and how they rehabilitate themselves was another topic discussed with SAJ students. Denis Hibovschi, former drug user and now father of three children, told young people how he became addicted to drugs, about the psycho-social and rehabilitation services he used, as well as how he learned to live without drugs.

One of the most important issues discussed was the use of proper terminology by journalists. SAJ students learned what terms and expressions should not be used in their articles and how to phrase their thoughts correctly when they write about drug users.

Finally, future journalists received some recommendations from the guests. Students were urged to abide by the journalistic code of ethics and, at the same time, to cover the topic of drug use as often as possible. “Be correct with yourselves and with those who you are writing about,” said Elena Cioina, manager of www.E-Sănătate.md, at the end of the meeting.