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Expanding Coverage: News and Information to Enhance Community Health

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Tuesday, December 4, 2012


A Call to Action: Giving Voice to Underserved Communities

Strategies for Engagement

MODERATOR: Bill Celis, Associate Director, USC Annenberg School of Journalism


Journalism with Impact

MODERATOR: Anh Do, Multicultural Communities Reporter, Los Angeles Times

Foundation-Funded Journalism: Promise and Peril

MODERATOR: Mary Lou Fulton, Senior Program Manager, The California Endowment 

Speakers (in order of appearance)

Michelle Levander, a veteran news editor and reporter, is founding director of The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, editor-in-chief of its website, Center for Health Journalism Digital, and co-editor and publisher of Boyle Heights Beat, a bilingual quarterly newspaper produced by high school students in a Latino immigrant neighborhood of Los Angeles and distributed to 22,000 homes in the community through a partnership with La Opinion.   

Ernest James Wilson III, Ph.D., is Walter Annenberg Chair in Communication and dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. He is also a professor of political science, a faculty fellow at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School, a member of the board of the Pacific Council on International Policy and the National Academies' Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He served on the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting from 2000 to 2010, the last year as chairman.

Robert K. Ross, M.D. is president and CEO of The California Endowment, the largest health foundation in California. He previously served as director of the Health and Human Services Agency for the County of San Diego and as Commissioner of Public Health for the City of Philadelphia. Dr. Ross has an extensive background as a clinician and public health administrator. The California Endowment currently funds approximately 20 media projects as part of its strategy for improving community health.

Geneva Overholser is director of the School of Journalism at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. She was editor of The Des Moines Register from 1988 to 1995, where she led the paper to a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. She has been ombudsman of The Washington Post, a member of the editorial board of The New York Times, a syndicated columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group, and a reporter for the Colorado Springs Sun.  

Bill Celis is associate director of the Annenberg School of Journalism. He is a former education correspondent for The New York Times and a former reporter and columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He conceived and helped create Intersections: The South Los Angeles Report, the first hyper-local website at USC Annenberg.

Chris Amico is a journalist and web developer with experience in local newspapers, national news organizations, and media start-ups. He runs the technology side of Homicide Watch D.C., which won the Online News Association's Knight Award for Public Service. Beyond Homicide Watch, his past projects include Patchwork Nation, PBS NewsHour's Gulf Oil Leak Meter and NPR's StateImpact project.

Martin Reynolds is senior editor for community engagement at the Bay Area News Group, the dominant mainstream media organization in northern California. He is one of a handful of journalists nationally with this title and an innovator in engaging with Oakland's diverse communities. Reynolds is the former editor of the Oakland Tribune, now owned by the Bay Area News Group.

Kate Long is a writing coach and a freelance reporter for The Charleston Gazette and West Virginia Public Radio.  She was a 2012 National Health Journalism Fellow and recipient of a Dennis A. Hunt Health Journalism Grant. With the grant, she and The Charleston Gazette set out to create a climate of “sustained outrage” about the state’s obesity and diabetes crises. The result: an extraordinary year-long series as well as an impressive community, legislative, civic, and university response, with many interesting partnerships.

Anh Do reports on multicultural communities for the Los Angeles Times, a reporting position funded by the Ford Foundation. Previously, she served as vice president of Orange County-based Nguoi Viet Daily News, the largest Vietnamese-language publication in the United States, which her late father founded, and as managing editor of LA.Spot.Us.

Brizette Castellanos is a youth reporter and Jessica Perez is online and community editor for Boyle Heights Beat, a print and online news outlet for a Latino immigrant community of Los Angeles. A collaboration among USC Annenberg, The California Endowment and La Opinión, this free quarterly newspaper depicts life in an inner-city Latino immigrant neighborhood as its residents experience it – with stories of cultural riches and community challenges, but not as the hotbed of crime and violence portrayed in the mainstream media. With its storytelling, Boyle Heights Beat gives voice to a marginalized community.  

A representative from The Reporting on Health Collaborative, which involves seven news outlets in California’s Central Valley. It is currently producing an ambitious reporting project on official indifference towards a devastating illness called “valley fever.” The Collaborative seeks to maximize its impact by taking risks and forging new relationships. The ongoing project has already had promising results and engaged many in the community.

David Haas serves as chair of the Wyncote Foundation and chair of Media Impact Funders. He also is vice chairman of the William Penn Foundation, a regional grant maker based in Philadelphia.

Mary Lou Fulton is senior program manager for The California Endowment. Through her grant making, she is supporting health reporting at mainstream newspapers and nurturing new voices, including youth, in underserved communities. Before joining The Endowment in 2009, Ms. Fulton served as vice president of audience development for The Bakersfield Californian, where she oversaw the conceptualization and launch of new products and publications. Ms. Fulton has considerable experience as a journalist, serving as both an editor and writer at the Los Angeles Times, The Associated Press and, where she was managing editor. She also played a key role in the creation of

Derryl Acosta is the communications director at Price Charities, a non-profit that seeks to improve the lives of residents living in low income urban communities, with an emphasis on the San Diego community of City Heights. Mr. Acosta  has worked as a television reporter and communications professional for the past 17 years, for both private and public organizations. He currently oversees a public benefit publication for an immigrant community of San Diego, City Heights Life, which aspires to inform, uplift, and unify its readers.

Mark Hallett is a senior program officer in the journalism program at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, where he coordinates grantmaking in a number of areas, including youth journalism, press freedoms, diversity in journalism, and First Amendment initiatives. Before joining the McCormick Foundation, he was an editor at Safety + Health magazine, where he launched an international edition and researched, assigned and wrote stories on workplace safety and environmental issues.

Mark Jurkowitz, associate director of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, has spent nearly two decades covering the news media. He is currently working on a major report that examines the economics of the non-profit news sector and includes survey data from scores of non-profit news sites. Previously, he was the press critic and for the Boston Phoenix, where he wrote the "Don't Quote Me" column from 1987-1994 and again from July 2005 until June 2006. In between, he spent 10 years at The Boston Globe, initially as the paper's ombudsman and then as its first full-time media beat writer. He has also made more than 300 appearances as a regular panelist on "Beat the Press," a weekly program on Boston's WGBH-TV that scrutinizes journalism.

Bahia Ramos-Synnott joined the Knight Foundation in September 2009 as a National Urban Fellow and was later hired as director, community foundations. She directs donor-advised grants to community foundations around the country. Prior to her selection as a National Urban Fellow, she spent two years in London, where she consulted with Man Group Plc, the world’s largest publicly traded hedge fund, in the corporate responsibility department. Previously, she worked in the cultural nonprofit sector in Brooklyn and in St. Paul, Minnesota.


Got a great idea for a reporting project on the health of underserved communities in California or on the performance of the state's health and social safety nets?  We're offering reporting grants of $2,000 to $10,000, plus six months of mentoring, to up to eight individual journalists, newsrooms or cross-newsroom collaboratives.  Deadline to apply:  September 20.


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