Center provides health journalism training and grants to 19 California journalists

Published on
March 13, 2023

The USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism has selected 19 talented journalists to participate in its annual California Health Equity Fellowship, investigating and exploring health challenges across the Golden State.

We are delighted to welcome this exceptional class of California journalists. Here at the Center for Health Journalism, we’re looking forward to the powerful reporting they will produce to illuminate health issues in their communities, spur new community conversations and spark change.

The Fellowship class is a diverse and talented group of print, digital, radio and TV journalists, working for outlets including the Sacramento Bee, Impulso News, Ethnic Media Services, the San Luis Obispo Tribune, STAT News, ESPN Andscape, KESQ TV, the LA Daily News, the Latino Media Alliance, and public radio affiliates KQED and KALW, among others.

The competitive program includes a five-day learning institute that provides insights about how health is shaped by community conditions, environment, systemic racism and social inequities, access to health care as well as an exploration of domestic violence as a public health epidemic.

Through reporting stipends and five months of expert mentoring, the Center for Health Journalism supports Fellows as they produce investigative and explanatory projects on some of the most urgent health challenges facing Californians. Each project will receive a reporting grant, and three fellows will receive community engagement mentoring and engagement grants. Participating reporters plan to investigate and explore topics such as the impact of predictive policing on community health; challenges for youth juvenile justice systems in California; reproductive health care in California; diaper inequities; and mental health challenges and efforts to address them for several California populations.

The program is made possible thanks to the generous support of The California Endowment and the Blue Shield of California Foundation. 

“The 2023 California Health Equity Fellowship holds so much promise for impact in our state,” said Debbie I. Chang, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California Foundation. “We are proud to support quality journalism that uncovers and helps communities to address health equity and domestic violence,” she added.

“We know there are major health inequities impacting communities of color across California, and the amount of misinformation being circulated only widens the gap in how these populations can take care of their health and the health of their families,” said Tony Iton, MD, Senior Vice President, Programs and Partnership at The California Endowment. “Accurate health reporting can be a disruptor in the health systems that have been rooted in structural racism and have overlooked the critical health needs for people of color. The California Health Equity Fellowship strengthens health reporting by giving new and emerging journalists the tools they need to be those disruptors, while moving health and racial equity efforts forward.”

Los Angeles Times metro reporter Brittny Mejia will deliver the keynote address, sharing stories from the field on her in-depth projects on overcrowded housing by design, patients without a safety net and more. We’ll also hear from former Center Fellows giving back to our community of practice including Washington Post reporter William Wan speaking on “How to Turn Pain into Power: Reporting on Children and Families Devastated by America’s Mental Health Crisis,” freelance journalist Joe Rubin on environmental health, along with the L.A. Times’ Tony Briscoe; L.A. Taco reporter Lexis Olivier-Ray on the Center’s Impact Reporting model, and Eli Cahan, MD, on COVID’s long shadow and stories of communities marginalized by the pandemic. The program also features an exploration of domestic violence as a public health epidemic, including India Current’s Anjana Nagarajan-Butaney and Meera Kymal, along with WHYY’s Sammy Caiola, all former Center Fellows, giving a talk on trauma-informed reporting, and conversations about ways to go beyond the criminal justice framework for domestic violence, with state and national leaders.

We are pleased to announce our 2023 California Fellows:

Angela Chen, KESQ

Hoda Emam, Harvard Public Health Magazine

Tamerra Griffin, ESPN Andscape

Clara Harter, LA Daily News

Ariane Lange, Sacramento Bee

Taylor Majewski, STAT News

Holly McDede, KALW

Christine Nguyen, freelance

Jonathan Peltz, Knock LA 

Omar Rashad, Fresnoland

Myriam Reyes, Impulso Newspaper

Brian Rinker, Youth Today 

Mackenzie Shuman, The Tribune in San Luis Obispo

Amanda Stupi, KQED

Sylvie Sturm, San Francisco Public Press

Angela Swartz, The Almanac

Aitana Vargas, Ethic Media Services and Todo TV

Brenda Fernanda Verano, CALÓ NEWS

Supriya Yelimeli, Berkeleyside