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Health and Public Policy: Doing it Right

Health and Public Policy: Doing it Right

Picture of Tracy Wood

For the first time, this fellowship gives me the opportunity to do a health story right.

Health issues usually mean big trouble when it's breaking news or an investigative story.

Agent Orange. Ebola virus. West Nile. H1N1. In their time, viruses, pesticides and other causes of sudden, mass illnesses have forced all of us who cover the news to drop what we're doing and take a crash course in an unexpected health crisis.

And if it's not a new or unusual disease that's causing the emergency, there's an endless supply of natural disasters and the contaminated drinking water that inevitably goes with every bad earthquake and hurricane or the air and water contamination that follows massive wildfires, plane crashes or explosions.

No matter how hard reporters try to learn about individual health hazards on a breaking story, there's always a sense of "what am I missing? What else should readers know?"

Rarely are we able to go back and look at the long-term effect of the health crisis we covered, or look more than a short distance ahead at potential impacts.

Yes, the issue I'm writing about has been out there and should have been covered long ago. But thanks to the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship, before I hit the field, I can get myself grounded on the issue, do research, talk to experts, interview those who made decisions that created this health situation and those who are living with the consequences of those decisions.

Best of all, I'm finally getting the chance to learn the background issues that will vastly improve my general health reporting on public policy issues in Orange County, Calif. And I'll be able to share what I learn with colleagues. This is one of the most exciting opportunities of my career.

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The USC Center for Health Journalism's Impact Funds provide reporting support — funding and mentoring — to journalists who think big and want to make a difference. 

Apply today for our National Impact Fund for reporting on health equity and health systems across the country. 

Apply today for our California Impact Fund for reporting that brings untold stories to light in the Golden State. 

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