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Health Matters Webinar Series


May 25, 2022

Nowhere was the massive COVID wave of winter 2021 more devastating than in America’s nursing homes, where 71,000 residents died in the surge. But not all nursing homes proved equally deadly, as a major investigation from USA Today recently made clear. Residents at one nursing home chain based in the Midwest died at twice the national average, according to figures reported by the company to the federal government. While the company may be a pandemic outlier, problems of understaffing and lax infection control measures have plagued nursing homes for years. In this webinar, we’ll hear from the lead reporter in the USA Today series, who will show how an original data analysis and an exhaustive reporting effort revealed a pattern of unnecessary deaths that compounded the pandemic’s brutal toll. Reporters will leave with fresh ideas and strategies for covering nursing homes in their communities, as new variants loom and policymakers roll out new regulations.

Previous Webinars

May 11, 2022

Abortion is arguably the most polarizing issue in America. As the country awaits a Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade in the coming months, legislators are flooding statehouses with restrictive bills in hopes that federally protected abortion rights will soon be gone. In other states, lawmakers and governors are fighting back, shoring up protections for people seeking reproductive care. This webinar will explore how states are gearing up for a post-Roe America. We’ll look at stories that go beyond the legal and political battles to report on the human impact. We’ll also discuss how mounting barriers to reproductive care affect the health of teens and young adults, particularly low-income young people and those of color, as they wrestle with choices about sex, contraception, relationships and identity. 

April 20, 2022

For many Americans, mental health care isn’t there when they need it. In this webinar, we’ll hear from a leading international researcher of mental health access challenges for immigrants and communities of color. He will share a model for how taking innovative community-based approaches can make it easier for Latino, Filipino and LGBTQ+ clients to benefit from mental health care that better serves their needs. We’ll ask, what can this forward-thinking program in California’s Solano County teach us about the broader effort to expand access to mental health care in underserved communities?

March 16, 2022

Science has moved at stunning speed to develop drugs to fight COVID-19, but as we enter the year three of the pandemic, the inequities and bureaucratic complexities of our health care system make it difficult, if not impossible, for the care to reach those who need it most. A CDC analysis of 41 health care systems found that patients of color were less likely to receive monoclonal antibodies than white patients though they die at far higher rates. During the omicron wave, the process to obtain scarce, potentially lifesaving medications was so convoluted and confusing — and varied from state to state — that it seemed designed to keep patients from obtaining treatment. Now, high-risk people must jump through hoops to get the new antiviral pills. This webinar explores the complicated landscape for COVID therapeutics, how it reflects and magnifies long-standing issues of health care access, and what this means for the future of the pandemic.

February 23, 2022

Racial and ethnic minorities in America experience a lower quality of health services, and are less likely to receive even routine medical procedures than are white Americans, a seminal report led by Brian Smedley, Ph.D., concluded in 2003. Nearly two decades since that damning Institute of Medicine finding, the fundamental problems of systemic racism in the U.S. health care system remain unchanged, just one aspect of a much broader American story. This webinar will share examples of how racism operates in health care systems, and how health disparities are compounded by structural forces such as residential segregation. Taken together, these forces ultimately erode Black health and hurt all Americans. The discussion will also feature examples of promising strategies to mitigate against these forces.

February 16, 2022

The public records request is perhaps the powerful crowbar a journalist has to pry open urgent information and data hidden from public view. Freeing those records from the shadows can be especially vital during a pandemic, as agencies quickly make decisions that carry life-or-death consequences. But it’s rarely as simple as updating a file form and firing it off to the agency in question. In this webinar, we’ll discuss the basics of records requests and strategies to make them more successful, before turning to some of the specific kinds of requests you might consider making around COVID-19 at this stage in the pandemic.  Attendees will leave with fresh ideas and strategies for holding power to account in their coverage area.

January 19, 2022

As we stagger into the third year of the pandemic and omicron rages, experts increasingly disagree about key questions of public health and infection control. It takes nuanced reporting to cover the latest, often confusing developments. As scientists race to understand this latest variant, prominent researchers are challenging highly regarded federal scientists on isolation and quarantine recommendations, testing, boosters, and whether COVID has become endemic. In this webinar, award-winning journalists Helen Branswell of STAT and Katherine J. Wu of The Atlantic discuss their strategies for staying ahead of an ever-changing story. 

December 16, 2021

Our long-held pandemic fears that an even more terrifying variant was somewhere in the offing seem to have come true with the arrival of omicron and its myriad mutations. But we also risk jumping the gun. So much about this new variant remains unknown, and the scientific chorus keeps hammering the theme of uncertainty, at least until early lab research can furnish more clues. Is omicron more transmissible? Better able to evade our body’s immune responses? Our arsenal of vaccines? Does it readily reinfect people who already had COVID? Does it tend to lead to more or less severe disease than the delta variant? In this webinar, we’ll hear from a leading infectious disease expert on what we know and don’t know about this latest variant of concern. Dr. Celine Gounder, a leading epidemiologist, medical analyst and host of the COVID podcast “Epidemic,” will brief us on the latest research, clarify what we still don’t know, and help us think through where the pandemic takes us from here.

November 16, 2021

Join award-winning journalist and author Sam Quinones in a webinar exploring the new reality of the nation’s addiction crisis and the most promising solutions emerging in communities. After appearing to level off, overdose deaths have skyrocketed by almost 30% since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and by nearly 50% in some states. So many people are dying — more than 90,000 in 2020 — that the Biden administration is embracing strategies such as distributing clean syringes, once considered taboo. Quinones talks with Michelle Levander, director of the Center for Health Journalism, about how he reports on these overlapping threats and weaves together analysis of the drug trade, insights from neuroscience, and stories of the human toll to create a gripping narrative. He will also share story ideas and tips for understanding and reporting on the changing addiction crisis in your community.

November 03, 2021

This year saw a scorcher of a summer, the hottest on record. Worse, it could be the coldest summer we’ll see in our lifetimes, as accelerating climate change makes extreme events like the June heat dome that broiled the Pacific Northwest a regular occurrence. But the threats posed by climate change are not shared equally. The poor, the elderly and communities of color are at especially high risk. As the annual death toll mounts, states such as California have failed to accurately track heat-related death and injuries, and state and federal regulations have failed to ensure workers in industries vulnerable to heat remain safe. In this webinar, we’ll glean lessons and insights from a yearlong Los Angeles Times investigation into extreme heat, reporting that offers a powerful example of how robust journalism can shine a line on this growing public health emergency. We’ll identify gaps in state and federal tracking efforts, and outline policy changes that could help. Attendees will gain strategies, storylines, and fresh ideas for covering one of the deadliest impacts of climate change.

September 29, 2021

The pandemic is far from over but crucial COVID-19 protections and benefits are gone. When the Supreme Court struck down the CDC eviction moratorium in August, nearly 6 million renters were behind on rent, about 1 million faced the imminent threat of losing their homes, and landlords across the country were still waiting for federal rental assistance promised last spring. Some local or state moratoriums and assistance programs offer renters protection — for now. But in many states, evictions cases are jamming the courts and families are scrambling to find increasingly scarce affordable housing. The crisis is compounded by the expiration of expanded unemployment benefits, which kept some 5.5 million people from falling into poverty during the pandemic. This webinar explores the end of renter protections, unemployment benefits and other emergency relief, and what it means for the nation’s pandemic recovery and the health and well-being of low-income people, their families and communities.



The USC Center for Health Journalism at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is seeking two Engagement Editors to serve as thought leaders in one of the most innovative and rewarding arenas in journalism today – “engaged reporting” that puts the community at the center of the reporting process. Learn more about the positions and apply to join our team.

Nowhere was the massive COVID wave of winter 2021 more devastating than in America’s nursing homes, where 71,000 residents died in the surge. In this webinar, we’ll hear from the lead reporter in the USA Today series "Dying for Care," who will show how an original data analysis and an exhaustive reporting effort revealed a pattern of unnecessary deaths that compounded the pandemic’s brutal toll. Sign-up here!


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