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2013 National Health Journalism Fellowship

Date and Time: 
Monday, July 15, 2013
Program Description: 

The National Health Journalism Fellowships program offers journalists an opportunity to explore the intersection between community health, health policy, and the nation's growing diversity. This program will be especially valuable for journalists interested in topics related to “health and place,” or how neighborhood, work and home environments impact health and life expectancy. As part of that exploration, our Fellows will see firsthand how race, ethnicity and class influence health with trips out in the field from our institute's home base in Los Angeles, an international city that has been called a "proving ground" for a multicultural society. California has the largest numbers of Asian and Latino residents in the nation, and many of the health challenges and opportunities that accompany changing demographics have been debated and legislated here.

During field trips and seminars, fellows hear from respected investigative journalists and leaders in community health, health policy, and medicine. They go home with a deeper understanding of current public health and health policy initiatives and gain insight into the larger picture of colliding interests and political battles over health policy. Participants also explore ways to document — through data and innovative storytelling techniques — the health inequities in their local communities. Hands-on workshops provide fellows with new sources, practical reporting tips and multimedia strategies to reach a broader digital audience.

In conjunction with the National Fellowship, we also administer the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism, a competitive grants program to underwrite substantive reporting on community health issues. Each Hunt grantee participates in the National Fellowship and receives a $2,500 to $10,000 grant, instead of the National Fellowship stipend, to support research on a community health topic. The deadline for applications for the 2014 grants is April 1, 2014.  Click here for details about how to apply to the National Fellowship and for a Hunt grant.

For more information, contact Martha Shirk at

Who Can Apply: 

The 2013 National Health Journalism Fellowships program  took place from July 9-14. This annual intensive health journalism institute offers journalists from around the country an opportunity to explore the intersection between health and place.  Reporting projects are supported with a $2,000 grant to each Fellowship recipient. The program pays all travel and hotel costs.

This Fellowship is open to professional journalists from print, broadcast, and online media throughout the United States, including freelancers. Applicants do not need to be full-time health reporters, but should have a demonstrated interest in health issues, broadly defined to include the health of communities (see more below). We prefer that applicants have a minimum of three years of professional experience; many have decades. Freelancers should earn the majority of their income from journalism. Applications from ethnic media journalists are strongly encouraged. Applicants proposing collaborative projects between mainstream and ethnic news outlets are given preference, as are applicants who have arranged for co-publication or co-broadcast in both mainstream and ethnic news outlets. Applicants must be based in the United States. Students are ineligible. Please contact us at if you have questions about your eligibility.

Click here to see a list of 2013 National Health Journalism Fellows, including Dennis A. Hunt Health Journalism Fund grantees.

Click here to learn more about our 2012 National Health Journalism Fellows. 


 Among the  highlights of the 2013 institute:

-- In her keynote address, "Poverty as a Childhood Disease," by Dr. Perri Klass, a professor of journalism and pediatrics at New York University, where she is director of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, discussed what she calls the "toxicities" of poverty and their effect on children's health and wellbeing. Dr. Klass has written extensively about medicine, children and literacy and writes the monthly "18 and Under" column for the Science section of the New York Times. 

 -- Robert Ogilvie, who has worked for decades in community development and planning, discussed how urban design can affect health and opportunity.

-- During a half-day exploration of health and homelessness, the Fellows heard from Steve Lopez, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, who will talk about his reporting on Skid Row. He’ll also share details of his efforts to help Nathanial Ayers, a former Juilliard violinist, to escape the streets and find treatment for his schizophrenia, with mixed results. A field trip explored Los Angeles County's innovative approach to addressing the health problems associated with homelessness. The county’s public health department has begun to provide chronically homeless and chronically ill adults with housing first, then offer an array of services to treat physical and mental illnesses. We visited a 10-unit apartment building near Compton, where 10 formerly homeless individuals live in safe, affordable apartments with access to an array of supportive services. Then, we headed to Skid Row, where an architecturally striking new apartment building, with a health clinic on the ground floor, will soon provide safe housing to 102 homeless adults with chronic medical problems.  The Fellows  heard from Marc Trotz, director of housing for health for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, who leads  the health department's effort to house 15,000 homeless people within the next decade; we also heard from Dr. Paul Gregerson, director of a Skid Row clinic that serves the homeless and Mike Alvidrez, executive director of the Skid Row Housing Trust.   

 -- We hosted several panels on health care reform as well as a visit to the Edward R. Roybal Comprehensive Health Center in East Los Angeles. We heard from Martha King, a health policy expert from the National Conference of State Legislatures, on the different approaches being taken by states to health care reform, and from Richard Figueroa, director of health and human services for The California Endowment, about why California is considered a model for other states. Martine Apodaca, director of marketing and corporate partnerships for Enroll America, explained how the national organization is using strategies honed during the Obama presidential campaign to reach out to the many Americans who stand to benefit from Obamacare.

Health care leaders or advocates from two states that are taking very different approaches to expanding health care access -- Arizona and Texas -- explained how political considerations are shaping their states' activities, as well as what's going to happen to people who are ineligible for Medicaid and can't afford private insurance. Fellows also heard concerns and perspectives of employers, safety net clinics and public hospitals. Sarah Varney, a staff writer for Kaiser Health News, provided tips about covering the biggest health story in decades.

-- Two veteran reporters shared the innovative ways they've come up with to increase their communities' engagement in their reporting. Kate Long, a reporter for the Charleston Gazette and a 2011 National Health Journalism Fellow and Dennis Hunt Fund grantee, talked about how she used her 60+ part series to mobilize an entire state to begin taking its obesity epidemic -- the worst in the nation -- seriously.  The series led to the convening of a legislative commission, the development of healthy eating curricula, new partnerships between local governments and health care providers and a host of other developments.

Marshall Allen, a reporter for Pro Publica, explained how he and his colleagues have used Facebook and an online questionnaire to build a database of hundreds of patients and health care providers who contributed to their stories on medical errors.  

-- The Fellowship week concluded Thursday with  presentations on racial, ethnic and income-related health disparities  by Thomas Laveist, director of the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions, and by Alex Ortega, M.P.H., Ph.D.,  the principal investigator of the UCLA Center for Population Health and Health Disparities, a multi-project, federally funded research center that aims to understand and intervene on cardiovascular disease disparities among Latinos in East Los Angeles.  


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