Center for Health Journalism announces 2023 National Fellows, $71,000 in Grants

Published on
July 17, 2023

The USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism has selected 20 talented journalists to participate in its 2023 National Fellowship to report on issues affecting child, youth and family health and well-being in the United States. 

As the Center’s director, I’m proud to welcome this group of reporters to Los Angeles this week. We look forward to partnering with them as they produce stories on health equity and systemic disparities in their communities that aim to make a difference. 

The Fellowship class includes talented and diverse reporters from across the country, including journalists from national outlets including NBC News, Politico and the Washington Post; regional newsrooms including the Seattle Times, the Tampa Bay Times and Boston 25 News; two public radio stations; plus, ethnic media publications including Word in Black and the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, both geared to Black audiences; and two publications focused on Latinx communities.  

The competitive program includes a five-day training that provides insights into how health is shaped by community conditions, systemic racism and opportunity. Through reporting stipends and months of expert mentoring, the Center for Health Journalism supports Fellows as they produce investigative and explanatory projects on challenges affecting child, youth and family well-being. Each project will receive a reporting grant ranging from $2,000 to $10,000, and several will receive additional community engagement grants and engagement mentoring. 

In partnership with the Center for Health Journalism, Fellows will produce ambitious projects illuminating underreported health and equity issues in our country, including racial disparities in infant mortality rates; the mental health challenges facing transgender youth; how doulas can improve health outcomes for families in rural areas; the ripple effects of increasing abortion restrictions on perinatal health; child abuse in public schools; the health effects of racism on Black Americans; hospital systems that harm patient safety; the health impacts of living in deteriorating housing; barriers to the effective treatment of opioid use disorder; and the life expectancy gap facing Native American families. 

The 2023 National Fellowship is generously funded by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The National Fellowship also receives support from The California Endowment and the Kristy Hammam Fund for Health Journalism, an initiative of the Social Impact Fund. 

“Everyone deserves an equal opportunity at health and well-being, yet structural barriers and discrimination continue to impede our ability to reach this north star,” said Jordan Reese, director of media relations for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Through their in-depth, sharp, and empathetic reporting, this year’s Fellows will serve as critical messengers and catalysts for change as they uncover the often-hidden health challenges facing communities across the country.” 

“At the W.K. Kellogg Foundation we believe strongly in the power of sharing stories and lifting voices of communities authentically – especially from those experiencing the worst health outcomes,” said Monica Beltran, program officer at the Kellogg Foundation. “This is why we are proud to support the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism’s work to shine light on injustice and inequality, inspiring communities to create change and hold systems accountable.” 

“Youth and families are dealing with so much in the post-pandemic era, from catching up in the classroom to mental health challenges,” said Beau Boughamer, senior communications manager for media relations at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a national philanthropy advancing the well-being of young people. “Rigorous reporting on the health and well-being of young people, families and communities has never been more important, and this year’s Fellows are innovative journalists we are delighted to support.”  

The program opened with a keynote conversation featuring journalist Linda Villarosa, a Pulitzer finalist for her new nonfiction book, “Under the Skin: the Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of our Nation,” speaking with University of Michigan scholar Arline Geronimus, author of “Weathering, The Extraordinary Stress of Ordinary Life in an Unjust Society,” who has garnered national prominence for her work exploring the effects of systemic oppression – and coping with it – on the body.  

Other highlights of the program include a field visit to Wilmington, CA, to explore the health threats facing residents of an 8.5-square-mile neighborhood surrounded by oil refineries, a port, and the third-largest oil field in the continental U.S.; a presentation by Michael Lindsey, PhD, dean and professor of social work at New York University, on the worsening crisis of youth mental health disparities; a conversation with Karen Sheffield-Abdullah, PhD, a nurse-midwife at the University of North Carolina, and New York Times reporter Roni Caryn Rabin on the U.S. dangerous child birth and the maternal health crisis; a talk by journalist Anya Kamenetz, author of the “Stolen Year: How COVID Changed Children's Lives, and Where We Go Now,” and a panel discussion with journalists on framing stories to highlight community resilience. 

We are pleased to announce our 2023 National Fellows: 

Belén Dumont, CT Latino News Network 

Kelliann Duncan, Laura N. Pérez Sánchez & Natalia Salazar, Centro de Periodismo Investigativo 

Helen Freund, Tampa Bay Times 

Chris Juhn, Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder 

Nora Mabie, Lee Enterprises 

Elizabeth H. McGowan, Energy News Network 

Julianne McShane, NBC News 

Megan Messerly, Politico 

Julie Poole, Scalawag 

Hannah Rappleye, NBC News 

Katie Shepherd, The Washington Post 

Nina Sparling, The Public’s Radio 

Alexa Imani Spencer, Word in Black 

Victoria St. Martin, Inside Climate News 

Lucia Starbuck, KUNR Public Radio 

Elise Takahama, The Seattle Times 

Marina Villeneuve, Boston 25 News