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2015 California Health Journalism Fellowship

Program Description: 

Taught by prize-winning journalists, community health leaders, policy analysts and health care experts, the 2015 California Health Journalism Fellowship focused on two broad themes:

  • How neighborhood life, social inequities, race, education and the environment influence health, and
  • The promise of health reform and health system innovation

This year, we provided a $1,000 reporting stipend to each Fellow to help pay some of the costs associated with ambitious reporting projects.

During five days of field trips, workshops and seminars, fellows learned about new data sources, heard about effective community engagement strategies and gained new perspectives on pressing health issues. They returned home with great sources and new ideas for how to tell complex health stories.  A midweek Fellowship project workshop benefitted from the participation of Fellows’ assigning editors or producers, whom we brought to Los Angeles at our expense.

During the Fellowship week, Fellows got plenty of time to discuss with experts, and with each other, strategies for covering health news with authority and sophistication. In the six months after the seminars end, veteran journalists will guide Fellows through work on major Fellowship projects.

Click here for a list of our 2015 California Fellows and links to their blog posts and Fellowship projects and here for summaries of their Fellowship projects.

Click here for a list of our competitively selected 2014 California Fellows.

Watch this video to hear from some of our 2014 California Fellows about what they gained from the experience:

What Past Fellows Say about the Fellowship

Fellows from the 2014 California Fellowship described it as a “boot camp for health journalism” and “a career-changing event.”

Evan George, 

a reporter for KCRW public radio in Los Angeles: “This fellowship is a great way to ensure that an ambitious reporting project you want to do actually receives the support, focus, resources, and buy-in needed to make it happen. It allows you to take a step back to fully consider your work and be inspired. It provided me with sources, reporting tips I would not have thought of, and much-needed space to think about my work that we so rarely get time to do in a busy newsroom.”

Maria Ortiz-Briones, health reporter for Vide en al Valle in Fresno: “As a new health reporter, it made me more confident in covering this beat. It gave me the opportunity to develop new sources and to meet with them face to face and learn about many different topics that are currently taking center stage in the health beat. It is a fantastic opportunity. Any reporter who cover health should at one point or another go through this training.”


Antonio Valverde, investigative reporter, KMEX Univision, Los Angeles: “Being able to hear and learn from top caliber people in the field of health reporting was a privilege. This experience will definitely help me with many of the new resources that were provided during the sessions as well as the thinking process when dealing with this subject.”


Who Can Apply: 

The annual program is open to all California journalists interested in health reporting, not just those on the health beat. We invite participation from print, broadcast and multimedia journalists working for or contributing to mainstream and ethnic media outlets in California. 

      • Gerald F. Kominski, Ph.D., director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, kicked off the Fellowship week Sunday night with a keynote presentation, “What’s Next for Obamacare in California?” In conversation with Anna Gorman, senior correspondent for Kaiser Health News, Kominski discussed the challenges the state faces in making sure that the newly insured gain access to health care, despite physician shortages and cultural barriers. Read an account of the conversation here.
      • Dr. Anthony Iton, senior vice president for healthy communities for The California Endowment, discussed “A New Public Health Practice: Targeting the Root Causes of Health Inequity.”  Former health director for Alameda County, Dr. Iton discussed how where people live, work and play affects their prospects for health. Read an account of his presentation here.
      • Tim Darragh, a 2014 National Health Journalism Fellow who is an investigative and enterprise reporter for The Star-Ledger in northern New Jersey discussed his 2014 National Health Journalism Fellowship project, “The Health Care System's Expensive One Percent: Reporting on Super-Utilizers.
      • A field trip provided a firsthand look at how at innovative approaches to health care are improving outcomes for chronically ill patients and the elderly, while lowering health care costs.  The Fellows heard from Martin Serota, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, AltaMed Health Services, and Steven Chen, Pharm.D., chair of the Titus Family Department, USC School of Pharmacy, about AltaMed’s health care innovations before heading to AltaMed’s clinic in El Monte, California to observe pharmacists providing care to diabetic patients and a multidisciplinary team provide elderly patients with medical, social, nutritional and rehabilitative services. Read an account of the field trip here.
      • Bernard Wolfson, business reporter for the Orange County Register and a longtime health reporter, shared secrets of successful health beat reporting, including useful state health databases.
      • John Keefe, senior editor on WNYC's Data News Team, conducted a three-hour workshop on how to use data visualization techniques to impart complex health information.
      • Fellows and their editors took part in a facilitated Editor-Fellow Workshop to brainstorm about their Fellowship projects.
      • Three journalists who are pioneers in community engagement gave presentations on “Engaging Audiences to Ensure Journalism with Impact.”   The program featured Martin Reynolds, senior editor of community engagement for Bay Area News Group; Blair Hickman, audience editor for The Marshall Project; and Catherine Stifter, documentary producer for Capital Public Radio. Read an account of their discussion here.


      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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