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2011-12 California Health Journalism Fellowship

Date and Time: 
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Program Description: 

Taught by prize-winning journalists, community health leaders, policy analysts, and health care experts, this Fellowship program features two intensive sessions, held three months apart to help improve your health journalism. Fellows participate in field trips, workshops, and seminars highlighting some of the top health challenges facing California. Both sessions begin with a keynote dinner on Thursday evening and end midday on the following Sunday.  The program pays all travel expenses associated with Fellows' attendance.

In Session 1, from November 17-20, 2011, 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. 

Session 2 -- from February 23-26, 2012 -- will provide an in-depth exposure to the latest thinking about a compelling health issue.  For our 2012 program, the topic will be "Healthy Communities" — how neighborhood life,  social inequities, race, education, and the environment influence health.  

New Fellows are expected to attend Session 1 and Session 2. Alumni Fellows are only required to attend Session 2. Assigning editors and producers for Fellows are strongly encouraged to attend our special Fellowship project discussion during Session 2, 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. Between the two sessions and for three months after the second session, Fellows confer by phone and e-mail with veteran journalists who guide them through work on major Fellowship projects.


Who Can Apply: 

This Fellowship is open to professional journalists from print, broadcast, and online media in California, including freelancers. Applicants need not be fulltime health reporters, but they need to have a passion for health news (broadly defined). Applications from ethnic media journalists are strongly encouraged, as are applications proposing collaborative projects for mainstream and ethnic news outlets. Students are not eligible.


Session 2: Feb. 23-26, 2012

 The weekend will kick off with a keynote presentation Thursday with Richard Jackson, M.D., M.Ph., professor and chair of the Environmental Health Sciences Department at the UCLA School of Public Health. Professor Jackson is the host of a four-hour public health TV series, Designing Healthy Communities, which is appearing on PBS stations nationally this month. A former high-ranking official at the Centers for Disease Control and director of public health for California, he will talk about how the built environment affects health.

On Friday morning, we will hear from Erika Fowler Franklin, Ph.D., an expert in media content analysis of broadcast health journalism at Wesleyan University, on  “Getting a Grip on Statistics: What’s Right and Wrong with Numbers in the News.”

A second Friday morning session will feature a panel discussion on park access and community open space, featuring award-winning Cal Endow Fellow and award-winning investigative journalist Tracy Wood’s series on unequal access to parks in Orange County and Robert Garcia, executive editor of The City Project.

Field Trip: The Los Angeles River: A City's Beginnings and its Futur: The Los Angeles River, a 51-mile long swath of concrete and gravel that cuts across Los Angeles County.  The river is in the process of being transformed into a community asset that provides open space and recreation opportunities. 

On Saturday morning, we will hear from Beate Ritz, a leading environmental health researcher, about her pioneering studies on connections between Parkinson’s Disease and pesticide exposure. She also has studied correlations between pre-term birth and air pollution. She will share a panel with Joy Horowitz, a Health Journalism Fellow and author, who recently wrote about water quality, pesticide exposure and Parkinson’s Alley in the Central Valley. Joy will share tales of her reporting adventures  and tips from her time investigating this story as a solo freelancer taking on an ambitious project.

Also on Saturday, we will host a panel on "Housing and Community Health: California's Foreclosure Crisis,” featuring  Dr. Sanjay Basu , UCSF physician andEpiAnalysis blogger and Ngoc Nguyen, environmental health editor for New America Media.

On Sunday morning, the program will feature an interactive workshop on “Reporting Health News with Context and Balance” led by Robert Davis, Ph.D. M.P.H., author of ‘Coffee is Good for You: From Vitamin C and Organic Foods to Low-Carb and Detox Diets, the Truth about Diet and Nutrition Claims.”

You willl also hear Sunday from social media guru Staci Baird of Stanford University, who will discuss how social media can be used to foster community engagement. 

Session 1: Nov. 17-20, 2011

Dr. Anthony Iton, senior vice president for healthy communities at The California Endowment and one of the country’s foremost thinkers on the topic, will speak on “Health Disparities: How Inequality Influences Our Health and Our Lives.” (Here’s what award-winning investigative reporter Dave Davis has to say about Dr. Iton)

In a keynote dinner address, award-winning investigative reporter Michael J. Berens of the Seattle Times will talk about how he reported his six-part series, "Seniors for Sale: Exploiting the Aged and Frail in Washington’s Adult Family Homes,” which won both the Gerald Loeb Award and the Worth Bingham Prize in 2010.

Suzanne Bohan, science writer for Bay Area News Group, and Sandy Kleffman, health reporter for the Contra Costa Times, will talk about how they reported the story, “Shortened Lives,” which won a national award in 2010 from the White House Correspondents Association.

In a keynote luncheon address, Dr. Rishi Manchanda, founder of  Rx Democracy! and former social medicine director of  St. John's Well Child and Family Centers, will talk about rethinking how medicine is practiced, with a focus on treating causes, not symptoms: “Where Health Begins: Revolutionizing Community Health Care.” 

A panel discussion on “Obama's Health Reform: The California Problem,” featuring Brietta Clark, Professor of Law, Loyola Law School; Noam Levey, Washington Correspondent, Los Angeles Times; and Drs. Marcia Sablan and Oscar M. Sablan, co-founders of Sablan Medical Clinic in the Central Valley.

Charles Ornstein, a senior reporter at ProPublica, will provide reporting tips gleaned from a career that has produced a Public Service Pulitzer Prize and a nomination as finalist for a second Pulitzer, in a talk, “Telling Patient Stories: Promise and Pitfalls.”

The 2011-2012 California Health Journalism Fellows are as follows:


Daniel Casarez
Photographer and Reporter
Vida en el Valle/The Fresno Bee


Gloria Castillo
Staff Writer and Assistant Editor 
Eastern Group Publications Inc.


Leiloni De Gruy
Staff Writer
Los Angeles Wave


Rachel Dovey
The Bohemian


Micky Duxbury
Freelance Reporter 
Oakland Local


Trangdai Glassey-Tranguyen
Freelance Reporter
Viet Bao Daily News


Ruxandra Guidi 
Border Reporter
KPBS Public Broadcasting


Allie Hostler
News Editor/Writer
Two Rivers Tribune


Scott Johnson
Oakland Tribune


Nelea Ko
Pacific Citizen


Katharine Mieszkowski 
Environmental Health Editor
The Bay Citizen


Erica Mu
Reporter, Producer, and Web Editor
KALW 91.7 FM  Public Radio


Martha Ramirez
Community Reporter


Farida Jhabvala Romero 

Associate News Producer/Reporter
Radio Bilingue


Kellie Schmitt 
Health Reporter
The Bakersfield Californian


Jacob Simas
Associate Editor / Project Manager
New America Media


Heather Somerville 
The Fresno Bee


Chuleenan Svetvilas 
Managing Editor
California Lawyer


Elizabeth Varin 
Staff Writer
Imperial Valley Press


Ryan White
Editor and Reporter
Marinscope Newspapers


Jocelyn Wiener
Freelance Reporter
California HealthCare Foundation Center for Health Reporting


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