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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Fellowship Overview

What kinds of Fellowships and grant opportunities  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 and health inequities. Our National Fellowship is for reporters from across the nation who are pursuing groundbreaking reporting on health disparities and coverage focusing on children, youth and families. 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 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 their editor to pledge their support and ensure the reporter will be afforded the time to complete their project during work hours. We never want Fellows to work on their projects on their own time and uncompensated. 

 

Where can I read examples of Fellowship projects?

We’ve been supporting journalists for many years and have produced thousands of stories. You can read all of them here. We know sorting through that many stories can be overwhelming. 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 them or their newsrooms. Through our programs, Fellows gain confidence, skills, sources, and new storytelling approaches 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.

What is ‘Impact Reporting’? 

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. 

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? 

Our Fellowship training institutes are week-long programs that we spend a lot of time and energy planning so that they are valuable to our Fellows. The sessions run eight or more hours daily with short  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 only to professional journalists. Undergraduate students are not eligible to apply. 

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

While we welcome freelancers to apply, they must earn the bulk of their income from journalism and have a confirmed assignment with an outlet to be considered. This includes a signed editor checklist and letter of recommendation. 

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 give preference to training reporters from ethnic media outlets. We also give preference to journalists with mainstream news outlets who propose partnering with a journalist from an ethnic media outlet. 

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 never formally covered health before attending our Fellowship. 

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

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 are just a few 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 designed to aid the professional development of veteran journalists as well. 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?

Each Fellowship and grant varies 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.

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: The California and Data Fellowships each provide a $2,000 grant to each participants, and we ask applicants to give us a rough idea of how they would spend the grants. For the National Fellowship and our various Impact Funds, we require applicants so specify the amount they are seeking (between $2,000 and $10,000) and justify it with a more detailed budget. 

  • Clips: Three samples of your most recent work. 

  • Letter of reference from an editor who knows your work weel (not necessarily the editor on the proposed project)

  • Signed Editor Checklist from the editor who will be working with you on your project

  • Resume 

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

For the California and Data Fellowships, we’re looking for just a rough idea of how our financial support would aid your reporting. For the National Fellowship and our Impact Funds, which offer larger grants, we want more details. Here are two examples of budgets drafted by accepted applicants to give you an idea of what a successful budget looks like. 

Budget Example 1

Budget Example 2

 

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

We offer all our Fellowship applicants the opportunity to speak with our staff about their project proposals before applying. We strongly encourage applicants to take advantage of this opportunity because it provides them a thorough understanding of what we are seeking in a successful project proposal. (It also gives applicants the best opportunity of being accepted.)

 

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 extra costs of reporting. They are not intended to supplant salaries or freelance budgets or to represent a payment for a story or project. Some Fellows use these stipends to fund reporting trips, covering costs of travel, lodging and food, while others use it to purchase datasets, or cover the costs of translating projects into different languages.

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 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. We discourage freelancers from using their stipends, meant to defray the cost of reporting, as compensation. 

 

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. The next steps would be provided based on to whom the payment should be made.

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. 

 

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