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Frequently Asked Questions

 Fellowship Overview

 

What kinds of Fellowships do you offer? 

We annually host three Fellowships.

Our California Fellowship is offered to journalists in the Golden State wanting to pursue enterprise projects on health, health inequities and the role of systemic inequities in shaping well-being in communities.

Our National Fellowship is for reporters from across the nation who are pursuing ambitious reporting on health disparities, systemic inequities and coverage focusing on children, youth, family and community well-being.

Our Data Fellowship teaches journalists essential data analysis skills in service of tackling a big health project. 

We also offer a variety of grant opportunities from our Impact Funds on an annual basis. Topics vary, and interested reporters should visit our Fellowship page for more information.

I’m not a health reporter. Am I eligible to apply for your Fellowship? 

Yes. We embrace a broad definition of health and the belief that it is shaped by our environment — our schools, our neighborhoods and our communities. In accordance, we admit reporters across a spectrum of beats and train them to view their beats through a health lens. Some of our very best Fellows have never formally covered health in their careers before our Fellowship. 

Are your Fellowships better suited for journalists from large or small newsrooms? 

Our Fellowship opportunities offer valuable mentorship and support to reporters from newsrooms where there’s lots of editorial support or minimal resources. We welcome journalists from newsrooms both large and small. We have admitted reporters to our Fellowships from national outlets with hundreds of staff members to local newsrooms where there’s just one or two reporters on staff. 

How many years of experience should a journalist have to be considered for a Fellowship or Impact Fund grant? 

For most Fellowships, we prefer for candidates to have a minimum of three years of professional experience. However, our programs are not only designed to aid the professional development of young journalists. Many seasoned reporters with decades of experience who have taken part in our Fellowships find them valuable, telling us that the program allowed them step away from their newsrooms to hone their health reporting skills and gave them permission to think big. 

Are there specific topics I need to report on to be eligible for your Fellowship?

All of our Fellowships vary slightly in terms of the stories we’re interested in supporting. In general, we support stories that embrace our broad definition of health and shine a light on the root causes of ill health, such as systemic racism, poverty, trauma, barriers to healthcare access, the built environment, housing and food insecurity, unemployment, lack of education and exposure to community or domestic violence.

I have a full-time job in a newsroom. Do reporters work on Fellowship projects on their personal time or during the work day? 

The majority of our Fellows are full-time journalists working in newsrooms.  Before accepting a reporter into our program, we require editors to agree to provide support and ensure the reporter will be afforded the time to complete their project during work hours. 

Where can I read examples of Fellowship projects?

We’ve been supporting journalists for many years and our collaborations have resulted in thousands of stories. You can read all of them here. If you’re an applicant looking for examples on a specific topic covered by Fellows in the past, reach out to our staff by emailing editor@centerforhealthjournalism.org and we can help direct you.

Why should I apply to one of your Fellowship opportunities? 

We’re dedicated to aiding the professional development of journalists across the country at no financial cost to newsrooms. Through our programs, Fellows gain confidence, skills, sources, and new storytelling approaches so that they can tackle big investigative and explanatory stories on the circumstances that shape the health of residents of their community. There is also plenty of fellowship and community-building among our classes, with participants gaining new perspectives and new colleagues. The program also provides technical advice that helps Fellows enhance their skills and advance their careers.

The Center asks for projects that focus on ‘Impact Reporting.’ What does that mean? 

Most reporters would tell you that their proudest career moments come from telling stories that create a positive change in their communities. At the Center for Health Journalism, we embrace this sentiment and through years of work, have developed what we call the “Impact Reporting” model, which combines powerful narratives, unassailable data and community engagement. We work with you to ensure your Fellowship project -- and future work -- takes this strategic approach.

The best examples of this model have changed laws, influenced policy, raised public awareness of critical health issues and amplified community voices. 

What is a ‘Senior Fellow’? 

A Senior Fellow is an experienced, professional journalist who coaches and mentors our Fellows through our Impact Fund and Fellowship programs. Senior Fellows offer reporters valuable guidance and expertise, helping them understand how to maximize the impact of their project, connect and engage with communities to inform reporting and go deeper on projects than they might have otherwise. 

Can I still work during the Fellowship week? 

No. Our Fellowship training institutes are intensive week-long programs. The sessions run about six to eight hours daily with breaks. To fully absorb and appreciate this professional development opportunity, we expect participants to be free of assignments and focused on the Fellowship program.  

Fellowship Eligibility 

 

I’m a student. Am I eligible to apply to your Fellowships? 

Our Fellowships are open to professional journalists. Students are not eligible to apply. 

I’m a freelancer. Am I eligible to apply for your Fellowships? 

We welcome freelancers who have a confirmed assignment or letter of commitment with an outlet. This includes a signed editor checklist and letter of recommendation. Freelancers must earn the majority of their income from journalism and be free of professional conflicts of interest.

I’m from an ethnic media outlet. Am I eligible to apply for your Fellowships? 

We believe that newsrooms should reflect the diversity of the communities they serve and stronlgy encourage applications from ethnic media outlets. We give preference to mainstream-ethnic media partnerships. 

The Fellowship Application Process

What’s involved in the application process for your Fellowships and Impact Funds? 

Our application process varies slightly depending on the Fellowship or Impact Fund to which you are applying. In general, we will always request the following documents: 

  • A Personal Statement and Project Proposal: This 2-3 page document should include a description of the project applicants are pursuing and demonstrate that the journalist has done at least enough reporting to know that the topic constitutes a substantial project. 

  • Deliverables Statement: This 1-2 page document must include the number of stories you’ll be reporting, and tentative story themes or focus, including any multimedia elements you plan to incorporate (photos, video, audio, graphics, etc).

  • Proposed Budget: We require Fellows and Grantees to provide us with a grant amount they are requesting and a rough breakdown of how they plan to use the funds.

  • Impact Statement: A summary of how you expect your proposed project to help improve communities and contribute to policy change.
  • Clips: Three samples of your most recent work. 

  • Letter of Reference From an Editor

  • Signed Editor Checklist

  • Resume 

What guidance can the Center for Health Journalism offer me as I apply? 

We encourage applicants to take advantage of the opportunity to speak with our staff about their project proposals before applying to gain a thorough understanding of what we are seeking in a successful project proposal. 

Reporting Stipends

How much are your reporting stipends? 

Stipends and grants vary depending on the program to which you are accepted. In general, they range from $2,000 to $10,000. We recommend applicants visit the individual program pages for the Fellowship to which they are applying for more information about grant amounts offered. 

How is the reporting stipend meant to be spent?

Stipulations on how grants are spent differ based on the program into which you are accepted. Generally speaking, stipends and grants provided for our Fellowship and Impact Fund programs are meant to defray the cost of reporting. Some Fellows use these stipends to fund reporting trips, covering costs of travel, lodging and food, while others use it to cover costs of translating projects into different languages or for contracting with photographers or videographers. 

If you’ve been awarded a Community Engagement Grant, equipment, supplies, travel, food for community members and compensation for speakers represent common expenditures for Fellows who have received engagement grant funds in the past.

I’m having trouble putting together a budget. How detailed should it be? 

We’re looking for a rough idea of how our financial support would aid your reporting. Our reporting stipends are not meant to provide you with base pay -- we count on your proposed outlet to do that. But we hope our support will enable you to enrich your reporting. We encourage you to be realistic in assessing actual costs rather than asking for the maximum amount. And we recommend that you tie your budget request into your reporting goals and explain how expenditures will assist you in realizing them.

I’m a freelancer. Can I use the reporting stipend as part of my pay?

We firmly believe that freelancers should be compensated fairly for their work by the outlets that contract with them. Our reporting stipends are not meant to substitute for pay by news outlets. Instead, the support helps journalists to defray the cost of reporting.

I work for a news non-profit. Can the reporting budget include costs for core support of my outlet? 

Core support for outlets would not be an authorized expense for a stipend. 

If the Fellowship is in-person, is my reporting stipend meant to cover the costs of travel? 

No. For all our Fellowships, we cover the cost of the hotel, airfare, meals, and tuition. The stipend is intended to defray costs of reporting your project. 

I’ve been accepted! How and when do I get paid? 

In order to receive payment from USC, the recipient of the stipend must register within the university’s supplier network, which is available by invitation only from a member of our team. The university payment process takes anywhere from two to four weeks. To expedite payment, we recommend Fellows and Grantees register to the supplier network upon notification of being accepted into our program. Fellows and Grantees should also let us know to whom the stipend is being paid. 

The stipend can be paid to the Fellow or Grantee as an individual (which is considered taxable income) or it can be paid to your news organization. 

In general, Fellows and Grantees can expect to receive one-third of the grant soon after the training institute, with the remainder paid upon publication or broadcast of their completed project. 

Announcements

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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