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In-Progress: California Health Journalism Fellows introduce their reporting projects

In-Progress: California Health Journalism Fellows introduce their reporting projects

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This year's California Health Journalism Fellows are pursuing stories important to communities. They're investigating air quality, the on-the-ground effects of health care reform and children's health, and asking important questions about how neighborhoods can be healthier. Here's a quick rundown of some of their projects, with links to their own blog posts so you can learn more, comment and offer ideas.

Something's in the Air

For her fellowship project, Christina Elston asks, what are our kids breathing? She will be helping parents understand the health impacts of air quality on their children for L.A. Parenting.

Do you know what radon in the air can do to your health? Roseann Keegan is investigating investments into radon testing in El Dorado and Douglas counties for the Tahoe Daily Tribune.

Ryan ZumMallen, executive editor of the Long Beach Post, is reporting on the environmental impact of expansions to the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. Will recently-adopted environmental improvements be negated by increased port traffic?

And what are health affects of that port-to-city traffic to Californians? Tena Rubio will report on the health effects of California's goods movement to low-income communities.

What About the Kids?

Kelley Atherton will look for positive solutions to endemic health concerns in Del Norte for The Daily Triplicate. She will report on a program to make school meals healthier, the effects of cuts to county health programs, and the impact of tooth decay in children.

Annette Fuentes is combining her experience reporting on health and education for The Bay Citizen with a project about how health and education intersect in the Bay Area. How do schools can affect the health of children and how do children's health affect their education?

The first part of Beatrice Motamedi's fellowship project will be a health survey of Oakland teens conducted with five teen investigator/reporters. As she embarks on the project, she finds literary inspiration in James Baldwin's 1963 essays The Fire Next Time: "(T)his was the beginning of our burning time,' wrote Baldwin.

John Sepulvado, health care reporter for Capital Public Radio, asks this simple question: Is there a relationship between bullets and belly fat?

Sarah Anthony asks, "If the Baltimore school system can work out how to get all the school food from local farms, can Los Angeles do the same?"

For Erika Cebreros, the challenges of breastfeeding are personal, and for her project she is reporting on the disparities and health benefits of breastfeeding in the Latina immigrant population for El Mensajero.

California Communities

Nicole Brambila wrote her first blog post to introduce her reporting project. She will look into health conditions for farm workers who live near the affluent neighborhoods of Palm Springs.

Joe Goldeen is sick of the sickness. "The people of Stockton and surrounding San Joaquin County, Calif., almost 700,000 strong, continue to experience among the worst health outcomes by any measure both statewide and nationally," he writes. His project for The Record will focus on the resources needed to improve health.

Post-traumatic stress disorder isn't just for veterans. Kimber Solana is looking into the long-term mental health effects of gang violence for The Salinas Californian.

Astrid Viciano, reporter for Stern Magazine in Germany, is going to Hollywood to find out how television sitcoms can convey useful health information in their plot lines and how one program helps writers make sure that information is correct.

Merced County hosts an estimate 5,000 small businesses, and, beginning in 2014, those with over 50 employees will have to provide health insurance for their employees or pay penalties. Yesenia Amaro, health care reporter for the Merced Sun-Star, is investigating the effects of health care reform: Will it be a boon or a bane to entrepreneurship?

Hillary Meeks is investigating the cycle of poor health outcomes and lack of care in Tulare County for the Visalia Times-Delta.

Tracy Wood is reporting on a health crisis years in the making in Orange County for the Voice of OC.

"Are one in 100 San Franciscans dead at 50?" asks Dr. R. Jan Gurley. She is investigating homeless mortality and health interventions neighborhood by neighborhood.

What's For Lunch?

Shelley Levitt will take on food deserts, neighborhoods where "a wilting head of lettuce costs two or three times as much as a dollar meal." How can a person make healthy choices when nutritional food is beyond reach?

"A painful irony exists in California's agricultural heart," write Pauline Bortolone. "Farm workers, far too often, don't have access to the fruits of their own labor." She will be reporting on new solutions to the problem for Latino USA.

We'll be live-blogging and tweeting the fellowship seminars in Los Angeles from this Thursday evening through Sunday. Follow on Twitter, hashtag #chjf.

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The Center for Health Journalism is dedicated to supporting journalists covering two of the biggest stories of our time — the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism and inequities in America. We provide reporters with intensive training instituteswebinars and tips about craft and content and are providing deep and sustained support for reporters and their newsrooms in this historic and difficult moment. You can donate through the USC web portal at this link. Pressed for time? You can also text to donate! No amount is too small; just send a text to 41-444 and type the message CHJ for further instructions.

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