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2014 National Health Journalism Fellowship

Date and Time: 
Monday, July 14, 2014
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 was April 18, 2014.  Click here for details about how to apply to the 2015 National Fellowship and for a Hunt grant.

For more information, contact Martha Shirk at

Who Can Apply: 

The 2014 National Health Journalism Fellowship program took place July 13-17, 2014. 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 for a list of the 2014 National Health Journalism Fellows, including Dennis A. Hunt Health Journalism Fund grantees. Click on their individual names to read their bios. You can follow a link on each Fellow's profile page to a blog post that he or she has written about his or her Fellowship project. Click here to read a summary of the projects.   Click here to read a summary of highlights of the week's agenda.

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 Fellowship week:

  • Elisabeth Rosenthal, a physician and reporter for the New York Times whose yearlong series, “Paying Till It Hurts,” has helped Americans understand why their health care costs so much, gave the keynote talk. Read an account of her talk here.
  •  Jay Olshansky,  Ph.D., a professor in the School of Public Health of the University of Illinois in Chicago, discussed the influence of poverty, education and race on health and longevity. 
  • Dr. Anish Mahajan, director of System Planning, Improvement, and Data Analytics for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, provided an overview of health care reform’s successes and challenges and provide some insights into its next hurdles: lower costs and improved outcomes.
  • The principal investigators for a federally funded innovation pilot project discussed their model for providing better care to patients with chronic health problems. Dr. Michael Hochman, innovation director for AltaMed, and Steven W. Chen, Pharm.D., chair of Titus Family Department at USC School of Pharmacy, talked about how expanding the scope of practice for pharmacists helps diabetics avoid complications. In addition, Matt Zavadsky, director of public affairs for Medstar Mobile Health Care, spoke about a program in Fort Worth that provides home visits by paramedics and nurses to frequent utilizers of emergency rooms in Fort Worth.  Read about their presentations here.
  • A panel of health journalists provided tips about covering health care reform now that the enrollment challenges have been overcome and it’s up and running: Noam Levey, Washington correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, and 2013 National Health Journalism Fellows Jennifer Haberkorn of Politico and Eric Whitney of NPR and Kaiser Health News.
  • A daylong field trip  took Fellows to the headquarters of the Children’s Institute, one of Los Angeles’ foremost family-serving organizations, to explore the longterm health consequences of trauma in childhood and new approaches to both prevention and treatment.  There, Fellows heard from Pat Levitt, Ph.D.,  director of the Program in Developmental Neurogenetics at the Institute for the Developing Mind, about how toxic stress impacts the chemistry and architecture of the developing brain.  They also heard from Children’s Institute clinicians who help parents learn appropriate parenting techniques and help children overcome the effects of abuse, neglect and community violence.  In addition, adult and youth clients discussed the life experiences that led them to the institute. Click here to read a blog post about how organizations such as Children's Institute and New Village Academy help traumatized youth heal and overcome their challenges. Beatrice Motamedi, a past Health Journalism Fellow, led a discussion about how journalists can report sensitively on the experiences of traumatized youth.
  • Martin Reynolds, senior editor of community engagement for the Bay Area News Group, discussed new ways for journalists to engage with their audiences to maximize the impact of their reporting.
  • Kate Long, a former Health Journalism Fellow and freelance writer and writing coach for the Charleston Gazette, led a workshop on community engagement techniques honed during her yearlong Fellowship project on West Virginia’s obesity epidemic, which sparked statewide policy changes and numerous community and school district initiatives. 


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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