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2014 California Health Journalism Fellowship

Date and Time: 
Monday, February 24, 2014
Program Description: 

Taught by prize-winning journalists, community health leaders, policy analysts, and health care experts, this Fellowship program features field trips, workshops, and seminars that highlight some of the top health challenges facing California. The Fellowship begins with a reception and keynote dinner on Sunday evening and ends midday on the following Thursday.  The program pays all travel expenses associated with Fellows' attendance.

The general theme is "Healthy Communities" — how neighborhood life,  social inequities, race, education, and the environment influence health.   Fellows hone their craft, learn new multimedia and social marketing skills, gain new perspectives on health issues, and come away with great sources and strategies to deal with complex health data and research reports.  Assigning editors and producers for Fellows are strongly encouraged to attend our special Fellowship project workshop, at our expense.

During the Fellowship sessions, Fellows get plenty of time to discuss with experts, and with each other, strategies for covering health news with authority and sophistication. In the six months after the seminars end, Fellows confer by phone and e-mail with veteran journalists who guide them through work on major Fellowship projects.

Click here for a list of our competitively selected 2014 California Fellows.

Event Schedule: February 23-27, 2014

Who Can Apply: 

The program is open to all journalists interested in health reporting, not just those on the health beat. We invite participation from print, broadcast and multimedia journalists working for or contributing to mainstream and ethnic media outlets in California. 

Highlights of our 2014 program:  
  • In the keynote addressAmani M. Nuru-Jeter Ph.D., M.P.H.,  associate professor at the  UC Berkeley School of Public Health, discussed the latest research on race- and ethnicity-related health disparities, including the increasing body of evidence on the role played by racism-induced stress.
  • Solveig Cunningham, Ph.D., assistant professor at  Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, discussed the just-released results of her groundbreaking research on childhood obesity, which found that children who are overweight in kindergarten are far more likely to be obese by eighth grade than kindergartners who are normal weight. Her research suggests that it's important to prevent obesity during the preschool years, when the rate is much lower than during the teen years.

  • Dr. Barbara Staggers, chief of adolescent medicine at Children's Hospital & Research Center, Oakland,  talked about innovative programs to keep children healthy -- and alive -- in violence-plagued Oakland. (Click here for a blog post about her talk on the  impact of violence on youth.)

  • Two 2013 National Health Journalism Fellows, Karen Bouffard of the Detroit News and Andrea Walker of the Baltimore Sun, discussed the data-mining and storytelling technigues they used for their recent Fellowship projects.  In an ambitious multimedia project, "Surviving through Age 18," Bouffard showed that Detroit is the most dangerous place in America for a child because of the high infant mortality and child homicide rates. Walker's project, which will be published in March, documents the impact of violence on Baltimore. Click here to read a story about their presentation.

  • A field trip on Wednesday to the To Help Everyone Health and Wellness Centers in South Los Angeles provided a closeup look at the promise -- and challenge -- of Obamacare in California. Fellows heard from the clinic's CEO, medical director, social worker and community relations and education manager, as well as the president and CEO of the Community Clinic Association of L.A. County, about how community clinics are coping with both an increased demand for their services, as well as competition for newly insured patients from other medical providers.  Anna Gorman, senior health reporter for Kaiser Health News, provided tips for covering the implementation of health care reform in California communities.

  • On Wednesday afternoon,  Dr. Robert K. Ross, president and CEO of The California Endowment and a board member of CoveredCalifornia, the state's new health care exchange, and Gerald F. Kominski, Ph.D.,  director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, engaged in an intimate conversation about the challenges the state faces in making insurance accessible and affordable for the largest uninsured population in the country. Click here to read a story about their conversation and watch the videotape of it.
  • Robert Davis, Ph.D., M.P.H., president and editor-in-chief of Everwell,  a health video production company and website, and author of “Coffee is Good for You,” led an interactive workshop, “Reporting Health Stories with Context and Balance.”
  • Bernard Wolfson, health reporter for the Orange County Register, shared secrets of successful health beat reporting, including useful state health databases. Click here to read a story about his presentation and view his slides.
  • Patrick Boyle, communications director of The Forum for Youth Investment and former editor of Youth Today, led a workshop on how to access evaluations and financial records of nonprofit organizations.
  • Two former Fellows, 2012 National Fellow Kate Long, a freelance reporter for the Charleston Gazette, and 2011 California Fellow Jan Gurley, a physician and freelance journalism, discussed the importance of community engagement to ensure that journalism has an impact.  With a grant from the Fellowships’ Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism, Long produced “The Shape We’re In,”  a 60+ part series on West Virginia’s obesity problem that has led to numerous community initiatives and legislative action. And for her Fellowship project, Gurley used inexpensive cell phones to enable people living on the streets of San Francisco to chronicle their own struggles with hunger and ill health.
  • Every journalist dreams of producing a story that "goes viral," and Staci Baird, a social media consultant, provided tips on "Making Your Content Social."


Do you have a great idea for a potentially impactful reporting project on a health challenge in California?  Our 2020 Impact Fund can provide financial support and six months of mentoring.


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