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Center for Health Journalism Fellowships Posts

Here is where you'll find news about the Center for Health Journalism Fellowships program and its participants. Check back often for updates on Fellows and their work, live-blogging of our seminars, and more from our staff.

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The first seminar of the California Broadcast Fellowship this weekend elicited debate on many health-related topics. But the future of news -- how multimedia and Twitter alongside shrinking newsroom budgets are changing what it means to be a journalist -- created some of the most robust conversations.

Here are remarks from a few of the fellows to get an online conversation going -- you can add to the discussion by commenting here or by participating in the Reporting on Health forums.

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What happens when 20 health journalists walk in to a convenience store in downtown Los Angeles and ask about buying tetracycline without a prescription?

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Kelley Weiss, a health care reporter at Capital Public Radio in Sacramento, is one of this year's California Broadcast fellows. For her report, L.A. Takes On Prescription Drug Swaps, she reported on a thriving black market for prescription drugs from abroad and accompanied a team from the multi-department Health Authority Law Enforcement (HALT) Task Force to collect illegal pharmaceuticals.

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According to a Pew Internet and American Life social networking survey, 35% of online adults had profiles on social networking sites in 2008, compared to 8% in 2005. Online social networking is still a "phenomenon of the young" for how ubiquitous Facebook and MySpace is among 18 to 24 year-olds, but 35% of adults overall have profiles on networking sites. African-American and Hispanic adults are more likely to have profiles than whites adults.

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Investigative reporting on a deadline is all about having a great Rolodex.

ABC News' Lisa Stark says, "The key thing about sources is that you need them as much, if not more when you do daily news."

Echoing NBC's Robert Bazell in the keynote speech of the seminar, Stark and Michael Berens of the Seattle Times say that there is no shortcut to cultivating good sources. Having strong relationships with a large base of people who will provide you with information takes time and persistence.

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Lack of primary care and attention to chronic disease are the real ills of the health care system, panelists said at a seminar on health care reform for California Broadcast Fellows.

Anthony Iton, public health officer for Alameda County, says that 3 out of every 4 health care dollars goes to the treatment of chronic disease. "It is the elephant in the room. If you're not talking about chronic disease, you're not talking about health," he says.

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Robert Bazell doesn't mince his words when it comes to what he thinks makes good journalism. The three-time Emmy winner and NBC News' chief science and health correspondent doesn't put much stock in journalism school.

"Being a good reporter isn't about having the academic credentials," Bazell explained. What counts, he said in his keynote speech to this year's California Broadcast Fellows, is the ability to talk to the right people. "I think that all reporting is community reporting," he said.

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In a world of sound bites, 140-character reports and information overdose on the Internet, news about health often doesn't get all the airtime it deserves. The first session of a seminar for broadcast journalists will look at ways television, radio and multimedia journalists can boost coverage and depth in their reports.

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Writer, editor and blogger Angilee Shah is live-blogging the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships seminar for broadcasters taking place May 28-31 in Los Angeles. She's also on Twitter @ReportonHealth.

Angilee, a former managing editor of AsiaMedia, has written for the Far Eastern Economic Review, The China Beat, TimeOut Singapore , Asian GEOgraphic and Asia Pacific Arts.

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