A Different Kind of Health Summit

Published on
February 25, 2010

Against the backdrop of today's televised health care summit in Washington, D.C., a Los Angeles gathering is discussing health in their communities from a decidedly different angle.

"When people think of health, they frequently think of medicine," said Michelle Levander, director of The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, which convened the event. "But we encourage you think of health  from a different standpoint, from the perspective of broader community well being."

Healthy housing, environmental health, educational opportunity, as well as the availability of fresh produce and other healthy foods - these are all topics that are important to health beyond doctors and hospitals.

The attendees at today's Community Health and the Blogosphere conference have backgrounds that are wide ranging, from journalist David Watts Barton, editor-in-chief of the Sacramento Press, to Jacob Bayless, who founded the Empire Report to help Sonoma County residents fill information gaps about their communities. While the Fellowships have traditionally educated professional journalists on health journalism, the program convened bloggers and social media entrepreneurs to think more deeply about how people understand health news and information beyond traditional news channels. One possible outcome for the day is a new training program that addresses the needs of bloggers and contributors to hyperlocal news sites.

Felix Gutierrex, Ph.D, a journalism professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and pioneer for more inclusive media and community news, is leading the discussion. Here are some questions that we will be addressing throughout the day:

  • How are we using new technologies to talk about health and how could we be using new technologies?
  • How should we define words like "health" and "journalism"? How can we think more broadly about these terms?
  • What motivates bloggers, especially those with a socially conscious focus?
  • What tools of old-fashioned journalism are useful in this new sphere?
  • What kinds of resources and fellowships are most valuable to media entrepreneurs and bloggers working closely with their communities?
  • What can Annenberg bring to the community blogosphere and what can bloggers bring to Annenberg and each other?

Follow along and join this conversation here at the ReportingonHealth Fellowships Blog, and follow the conference in realtime on Twitter with the hashtag #uscbloggercon and see the tweets of attendees on the seminar Twitter list.