Skip to main content.

2018 Data Fellowship

Program Description: 


The 2018 Center for Health Journalism Data Fellowship was designed for skilled journalists who want to learn to mine data sources to reveal key insights essential to high-impact journalism. 

The program offered professional reporters an opportunity to learn to acquire, analyze and produce visualizations of data that can help their audiences understand key health and child welfare developments.  Applicants could be either beat reporters, focused on health or children's issues, or have a demonstrated interest in reporting on these themes.

The program brought 16 competitively-selected professional journalists from leading print, broadcast, ethnic and online media outlets to the University of Southern California campus for an all-expenses-paid, four-day data journalism institute. After the training, Fellows returned home with a reporting grant of $2,000 to $4,000. For six months after they return to their newsrooms, fellows received guidance from some of the best data journalists in the business as they complete ambitious explanatory or investigative Fellowship projects built around data – reporting that impacts policy and spurs new community discussions. Our 2018 Data Fellowship mentors are Meghan Hoyer, data editor at The Associated Press; Paul Overberg, data reporter at the Wall Street Journal; and Cheryl Phillips, Lorey I. Lokey Visiting Professor in Professional Journalism in the Department of Communication at Stanford University and a founding member of the California Civic Data Coalition.

Center for Health Journalism's 2018 Data Fellows received intensive training on data acquisition, cleaning, analysis and visualization, as well as an introduction to important data sets that can serve as the basis for groundbreaking journalism.  They hear from leading data journalism experts about how to make successful Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and gain insights on how to pair original data analysis with compelling narratives.

The 2018 Data Fellowship provided two training tracks tailored to the skill levels of participating journalists.

Each Fellow was required to propose an ambitious investigative or explanatory reporting project to undertake in the six months following the training. 

The Data Fellowship identified priority areas for projects:

For California Applicants

The Center gave priority to proposals for projects on health policy topics such as mental health and substance abuse; health care costs and health care financing; the performance of California’s safety net; the patient experience; the health care workforce; health care coordination; the use of opioid drugs; end of life and palliative care; telemedicine and the use of technology in health care delivery; data transparency and the health care industry; maternity care and cancer care. We also welcome proposals from California journalists that are focused on children and families, but they should also meet one of the above criteria. 

For National Applicants (Outside California)

The Center sought proposals for projects that explore child welfare, juvenile justice and child health and well-being issues, including, but not limited to, the impact of chronic stress, poverty and childhood trauma on child development; juvenile justice; the intersection between partner violence and child abuse; the role of policy in improving prospects for children; community violence; child illness, injury and mortality trends; the intersection of race/ethnicity and/or class in child and family outcomes; strengths-based approaches to improving outcomes for vulnerable children and families; creative financing strategies; cross-agency strategies to treat and prevent the impacts of child maltreatment on children and families; and innovative solutions. 

Click here for a list of the 2018 Data Fellows and descriptions of their Fellowship projects. Click here for a list of 2017 California Data Fellows and descriptions of their Fellowship projects.  Click here for a list of our inaugural class of 2015 Fellows and links to their Fellowship projects.



Who Can Apply: 

Applicants had to demonstrate a minimal skill level in Excel or take an online course on Excel before coming to L.A. 

What Fellows Gained

Knowledge and Skills: Fellows received intensive training in data acquisition, cleansing, analysis and visualization techniques from some of the best data journalists in the country.  Fellows gained insights into how to document health and demographic trends in their local communities.

Financial Support and Mentoring:  Fellows received grants of $2,000 to $4,000 to use for reporting and data acquisition costs, with the actual amount dependent on demonstrated need.  Veteran data journalists provided one-on-one mentoring for six months while Fellows worked on substantive investigative or explanatory reporting projects. Three Data Fellows from California received supplemental grants of $1,000 to $2,000 for community engagement, as well as specialized mentoring on community engagement

The 2018 Data Fellowship received generous support from the California Health Care Foundation, The California Endowment and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.




Here are some planned highlights of the upcoming 2018 Data Fellowship: 

  • Paul Overberg, a data journalist at the Wall Street Journal, will provide in-depth overviews on navigating spreadsheets and exploring U.S. Census data to report on children and families 
  • Cheryl Phillips, Lorey I. Lokey Visiting Professor in Professional Journalism in the Department of Communication at Stanford University and a founding member of the California Civic Data Coalition, will provide instruction on standardizing and cleaning data, using Tableau Public and more
  • Meghan Hoyer, a data journalist for The Associated Press, will lead workshops on datasets instrumental to good health and child welfare policy reporting
  • Sarah Cohen, Knight Chair in Data Journalism at Arizona State University and former editor of the Computer-Assisted Reporting Group at The New York Times, will share tips about how reporters can use FOIA and its cousins to access death records, hospital payments and lobbying by health care companies
  • Ben Jones, who heads up Tableau Public and the author of Communicating Data with Tableau, will provide strategies and hands-on instruction for visualizing data for news audiences












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.


Follow Us



CHJ Icon