NEW YORK — "The widespread use of illegal drugs at all levels of American society" will be the subject of a 10-part series of special reports scheduled for public television's "MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour" over a two-week period, starting April 14.
The series, "The War on Drugs," is scheduled to take up "a substantial portion" of the nightly "NewsHour" through April 25. It is to consist of taped documentary reports and on-air interviews and debates, involving the entire "NewsHour" staff as well as several public television stations around the country.
Lehrer said the aim is to explore the economic, social and governmental facets of drug abuse, looking at South American drug sources, U.S. border crossings, usage and treatment on the part of Americans and efforts to stem the tide.
"Drugs present a major social problem in this country that seems to be growing rather than lessening, and all of us on the staff felt we needed to give it the kind of attention it deserves," Lehrer said.
Lehrer said the idea for the ambitious series has evolved with recent revelations about the use of drugs in the sports world, in corporate America and among "yuppies" as well as the country's young people. "When you consider the numbers of people at all levels of our society who are said to be using so-called 'recreational' drugs, there is obviously a problem that is not being resolved," he said.
Plans call for a good portion of the series to focus on the Western and Southwestern United States. California segments scheduled to date include drug use among white-collar workers in the Silicon Valley, a report on border crossings to be produced by San Diego's public television station KPBS, and two reports on drug use among both ghetto and middle-class youth, to be produced by San Francisco's KQED.