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How to Apply for the 2020 National Fellowship

Dates: July 20-24, 2020

Deadline: May 26, 2020

How to Apply: 

All applications must be submitted online through this link.  If you encounter technical problems when you're trying to apply, please contact the webmaster at webmaster@med.usc.edu.

 The application asks for the following:

  • A personal statement
  • A Fellowship project proposal
  • Three samples of professional work
  • A letter of reference
  • A resume
  • An Editor's Checklist signed by a supervising editor and confirming the media outlet's intent to publish or broadcast the Fellowship project

Note: Applicants must join CenterforHealthJournalism.org and post a profile and photo.

If you're also applying for a supplemental Community Engagement Grant of up to $2,000, click here to access the separate application.

Personal Statement (Including Project Proposal) [We recommend that you write this in Word and cut and paste it into the online application]

In no more than 500 words, please describe your health, child welfare or social issues reporting experience. Tell us about the types of  stories you currently cover (or would like to cover) and why you are interested in attending the Fellowship sessions. Include a description of your publication, broadcast outlet or website, including the size, nature and geographic reach of its audience and how it's measured. (For websites, we require Google analytics or an equivalent.) Describe your coverage to date of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tell us how much of your work time you expect to be devoting to it through December, and how you will make time to report on an ambitious project, given the burdens on your time. Let us know if your outlet has had any layoffs, furloughs or salary reductions.

In 750 to 1,000 words, summarize  a major domestic health, child welfare or social issues reporting project that you propose to pursue as part of the Fellowship. We are looking for project descriptions that are in-depth and indicate that you have already done some preliminary research. For the 2020 Fellowship, we are most interested in projects that:Explore the disportionate economic or health impacts of the COVID-19  crisis on specific racial or ethnic groupsExplore the disportionate economic or health impacts of the COVID-19  crisis on specific racial or ethnic groups

  • Explore the disproportionate economic, social or health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on specific racial or ethnic groups
  • Illuminate or expose critical community health issues. Proposals can focus on a specific health topic or delve into a confluence of circumstances and conditions that impact health in a community, including environment; social class; crime and violence; urban development; access to health resources; school absenteeism; transportation or city planning; and racial, ethnic, economic or geographic disparities.
  • Explore child welfare, juvenile justice and child health and well-being issues, including, but not limited to, the impact of chronic stress and childhood trauma on child and adolescent development; inequities in the juvenile justice system; the intersection between partner violence and child abuse; childhood obesity; the role of policy in improving prospects for children; and innovative solutions to the challenges facing children in underserved communities
  • Illuminate the health and mental challenges facing the nation's immigrant population, both documented and undocumented
  • Investigate challenges to the success of health care reform and social supports

In your description, summarize likely themes, multimedia components and any social media and audience/community engagement strategies you anticipate, such as community forums, interactive digital features, partnerships with other media outlets or community organizations and so on. Tell us what sources you anticipate consulting, as well as how you would spend the reporting grant. If travel restrictions continue, tell us how you would connect with sources. Your proposal should be well researched and should demonstrate that you have done some deep thinking about the relevance of the topic to your community. Preference is given to projects that focus on underserved populations. Journalists at mainstream and ethnic publications who propose a collaborative project will be given priority consideration. If you write or broadcast for a mainstream media outlet and your proposed project deals with health issues that affect an ethnic community, we strongly suggest that you arrange co-publication or co-broadcast in an ethnic media outlet as well. 

If you are applying for a grant from the Dennis A. Hunt for Health Journalism and/or the Fund for Journalism on Child and Youth Well-being, tell us the size of the grant you are seeking ($2,500-$10,000) in lieu of the $2,000 National Fellowship stipend and provide some detail about how you plan to spend it. (You may apply for both specialty grants, but can receive only one of these grants.) These grants are designed to cover reporting and publishing- or broadcast-related costs, such as travel, website development, database acquisition and analysis, environmental or health testing, translation services or a limited amount of a journalist's otherwise uncompensated time. The size of the requested grant should be commensurate with the scope of your proposed project. The selectors reserve the right to award less than requested. If you are applying for a Hunt or Child Well-being grant but aren't chosen, tell us if you are willing to accept a National Fellowship grant instead and how your project might differ as a result of receiving a lesser grant.  If you are applying for an add-on  $1,000-$2,000  Community Engagement Grant, click on this link to apply.  Up to five Fellows will receive Community Engagement Grants in addition to a National Fellowship stipend or Dennis Hunt or Child Well-being grant.

Three Samples of Your Work: Submit three samples of your best work. (For work that has only appeared online, please provide working URLs, as well as Word documents or PDFs of the published stories.) Broadcasters should submit links to working URLs of their online stories or send files to our Dropbox account (cehjf@usc.edu). If you write in a language other than English or Spanish, we prefer to receive translations of your work. If that is not possible, send a comprehensive two-paragraph summary in English of each story. 

Letter of Reference: Please supply a letter of reference from your assigning editor, producer or news director that discusses your abilities and potential as a journalist in detail, as well as the newsroom's support for your project. We take these letters very seriously. The editor should also confirm the following:

  • That you have discussed your proposed stories with him or her.  Please tell us why they are important to the news outlet
  • That you will be permitted to attend all of the Fellowship sessions (disregard if you're a freelancer)
  • That you will be given time during work hours to ensure publication or broadcast of your Fellowship project by December 31, 2020 (disregard if you're a freelancer)
  • That the news organization commits to publishing or airing your stories, assuming they meet its standards

Editor/Story Checklist (download pdf) or download modifiable text document: Download it, fill in the description of your project, get your assigning editor's signature on it, and scan it into your computer to submit with your online application or FAX it to us at (877) 413-3873. Both freelance and employed journalists must submit written confirmation of a news organization's commitment to publish or air the work resulting from the Fellowship, assuming it meets its standards.

How We Select Fellows:

When choosing Fellows, we consider each candidate's personal and professional accomplishments and potential, as well as the potential contribution of his or her proposed stories or project on the public's understanding of health issues. We value diversity in both our Fellows and their media outlets. We encourage applications from candidates who serve non-English speaking audiences, although our seminars are conducted in English, so Fellows must be fluent in English. 

The Fellowship program will only review complete applications submitted by the May 26 deadline.

Tips for Maximizing Your Chances of Being Selected

  • Think big journalistically. 
  • Provide lots of details about what we can expect from your project.  Provides specifics, such as likely story count and multimedia components. We want to know what will result from our investment in you.
  • We're looking for impact, so tell us what problem your project will expose and what might happen as a result of increased awareness by the public and policymakers.
  • Tell us how you will engage the community with your project.  It's not sufficient any more to just put something out there.  Tell us how you will involve the public both in helping shape your journalism and responding to it.

Fellowship Terms:

All Fellows are expected to:

  • Attend all required workshops
  • Participate in a "community of Fellows" during workshop sessions
  • Treat other Fellows' works-in-progress as confidential
  • By December 31, 2020, ensure publication or broadcast of  a major reporting project on a domestic health or social welfare issue   
  • Provide us with digital copies of all components of your project for publication on CenterforHealthJournalism.org 
  • Disseminate information from the seminars to colleagues
  • Write at least two posts for ReportingonHealth.org about your Fellowship project -- an initial blog post introducing your planned project and a "Lessons from the Field" essay after it has been published or broadcast

For More Information: In advance of your application, we strongly recommend a discussion about your project idea in advance of applying. To arrange a conversation, please email Martha Shirk, program consultant, at CAHealth@usc.edu.

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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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