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Sad stories

Sad stories

Picture of Kelley Atherton

Sometimes it seems like all I ever hear about is the bad in Del Norte County.

I've heard stories of children who have been abused by their parents, who don't eat real food at home, who have cavities in every tooth, whose parents are addicted to drugs and who are "warm homeless" and have a place to sleep, but it's not a home. I see the obese children, teen moms and meth heads around town. I read the statistics about how Del Norte has the highest poverty rate in California, it's high unemployment rate and its ranking as an unhealthy county.

Del Norte can be a very depressing place.

Whenever I think about these stories, the untold ones, and wish I had more time to focus on these problems. But in a daily newsroom environment with three (soon to be only two) reporters and mandatory days off, all of these stories seem to fall to the wayside when there are board meetings to attend and election's coming up. These are excuses though and to be good journalists that rise above these circumstances, we have to find the time to report and write these stories.

For the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship, I want to tackle three stories that have been on my mind for a while: a group of doctors, farmers and parents have banded together to revamp the school meals to be more healthy; cuts made the county's health programs and how those have affected employees and recipients and the prevalence of tooth decay in children and its causes.

Hopefully these stories will give me a better grasp on Del Norte's health issues and lead to more stories of what's being done to solve these problems. I would like to give my editor some more positive, rather than negative, stories.


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I like your interest on these issues, however there is progress being made in reducing tobacco use in Del Norte County in addition to reducing exposure to second hand smoke. The community is speaking up for changes!

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“Racism in medicine is a national emergency.” That’s how journalist Nicholas St. Fleur characterized the crisis facing American health care this spring, as his team at STAT embarked on “Color Code,” an eight-episode series exploring medical mistrust in communities of color across the country. In this webinar, we’ll take inspiration from their work to discuss strategies and examples for telling stories about inequities, disparities and racism in health care systems. Sign-up here!

The USC Center for Health Journalism at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is seeking two Engagement Editors to serve as thought leaders in one of the most innovative and rewarding arenas in journalism today – “engaged reporting” that puts the community at the center of the reporting process. Learn more about the positions and apply to join our team. 


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