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2016 National Health Journalism Fellowship

Event Type: 
Date and Time: 
Sunday, July 17, 2016 - 5:00pm to Thursday, July 21, 2016 - 2:00pm
Program Description: 

Twenty-three journalists joined us for an all-expenses-paid five-day program at our home base on the University of Southern California campus in Los Angeles, an international city that has been called a "proving ground" for a multicultural society.

Click here for a list of the 2016 National Fellows and links to their reporting projects.

The 2016 program was designed for journalists who want to do groundbreaking reporting on vulnerable children and families and the community conditions that contribute to their well-being. Fellows gained insights into the latest research on how a child’s lifetime development is affected by early experiences of trauma, including abuse, neglect, parental stress and community violence. Other workshops and discussions – with distinguished journalists, researchers, clinicians and community case workers -- delved into the impact of poverty on children, including food insecurity, substandard housing and parents’ economic insecurity.

We also explored the connections between health and place, or how neighborhood, work and home environments impact health, well-being and life expectancy. Journalists learned about innovative prevention and clinical programs that suggest ways to address chronic ills.

Fellows also received advice on engagement strategies that can help to maximize the impact of reporting. We challenged them to engage more deeply with the communities their news outlet serves. Each Fellow will receive a  grant of $2,000-$10,000 and six months of mentoring by a senior journalist.

The 2016 National Fellowship was underwritten by generous grants from The Annie E. Casey Foundation and The California Endowment.

In conjunction with the National Fellowship, we administer two funds that underwrite specialized reporting and a third fund that underwrites community engagement efforts:

  • The Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism is a competitive grants program that supports substantive reporting on community health issues in underserved communities. Each Huntgrantee participates in the National Fellowship and receives a $2,500 to $10,000 grant, instead of the National Fellowship’s $2,000 stipend, to support reporting on a community health topic. TheHunt Fund supports investigative and explanatory projects that will broaden the public's understanding of community health – examining how poverty, race, ethnicity, pollution, crime, and land-use and urban planning decisions influence the quality of life of residents as well as innovative ways to address these disparities. Past grantees have explored themes including environmental health; chronic disease and its disproportionate toll on certain communities; access to care for diverse communities; health reform innovations and challenges; and transportation challenges that interfere with prospects for good health. 
  • The Fund for Journalism on Child Well-Being supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, underwrites substantive reporting on vulnerable children and families. Each grantee participates in the National Fellowship and receives a $2,500 to $10,000 grant, instead of the National Fellowship stipend, to support investigative or explanatory reporting on the impact of poverty and childhood trauma. Reporters may also choose to examine the performance of the institutions and government and private programs that serve these families. We’re interested in proposals for projects that look at child welfare and child health and well-being, including, but not limited to, the impact of toxic stress; the intersection between partner violence and child abuse; the role of policy in improving prospects for children, including those in juvenile detention; and innovative approaches to the challenges that children in underserved communities face.
  • The Community Engagement Fund provides supplemental grants of $2,000 to underwrite innovative community engagement strategies.  Click here to read a blog post by Center Director Michelle Levander and watch a video about the goals of the grants.

Why Apply?

Knowledge and Skills: During field trips and seminars, participants hear from respected investigative journalists and leaders in community health, health policy and medicine.

Workshops provide practical reporting tips, expert sources, community engagement strategies and informed policy perspectives on the circumstances that shape health or ill health in communities across America, with a focus on children. Participants also gain insights into how to document health and demographic trends in their local communities through innovative storytelling and data visualization techniques.

Financial Support and Mentoring:  National Health Journalism Fellows each receive a reporting stipend of $2,000 to offset the costs of ambitious investigative and explanatory journalism. Two topic-focused journalism funds provide alternative sources of support ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 (details below), payable either to the Fellow or his or her media outlet. Journalism fellows also receive six months of mentoring from senior journalists as they usher their projects to completion.

What Past Fellows Say about the Fellowship

Michael LaForgia, Investigative Reporter, Tampa Bay Times:  It's one of the best one of these programs I've ever attended. The Fellowship showed me how to pursue social issues as public health stories and also taught me about the types of people to seek out as expert sources.

Seema Yasmin, Health Reporter, Dallas Morning News: The mentorship and networking opportunities are amazing. It's great to have the time to focus on planning a big reporting project and to have input from some of the best print and broadcast journalists and editors. I finally understand what community engagement really means and what it looks like. 

Rob PerezInvestigative Reporter, Honolulu Star-Advertiser:  Coming from an isolated place like Hawaii, this was a great opportunity to recharge my batteries andexchange ideas with top journalists from other states. I'm returning home better equipped to serve our readers.

Melody CaoReporter, SinoVision:  I think the most important thing I learned from the program is that health is not only about health care. It's about everything from social services, to politics, to culture. exchange ideas with top journalists from other states. 

Lottie Joiner, Senior Editor, The Crisis magazine: The information on brain development and the impact of toxic stress and trauma on children was eye-opening. This program was packed with information, tools and resources. I met wonderfully passionate and talented journalists who I know will change their communities with their projects.

Who Can Apply: 

USC Annenberg is looking for journalists who think big and want to produce stories that have an impact. 

This Fellowship is open to professional journalists from print, broadcast, and online media throughout the United States, including freelancers. Applicants do not need to be full-time health reporters, but should have a demonstrated interest in health issues, broadly defined to include the health of communities (see more below). The Fellowship will meet in Los Angeles in July 2016 (dates TBD). 

We prefer that applicants have a minimum of three years of professional experience; many have decades. Journalists writing for ethnic media are strongly encouraged to apply. Proposals for collaborative projects between mainstream and ethnic news outlets receive preference by our judges, as do projects produced for co-publication or co-broadcast in both mainstream and ethnic news outlets. Freelancers who apply should earn the majority of their income from journalism. Applicants must be based in the United States. Students and interns are ineligible.

Please contact us at if you have questions about your eligibility.

How to Apply

Click here for details about how to apply. 

Which Fellowship Is Right for Me? 


Among the highlights of the 2016 National Fellowship week:

  • Anne Fernald, Ph.D., director of the Center for Infant Studies at Stanford University, on the "word gap" between infants in different socioeconomic groups
  • Anthony Iton, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., senior vice president for Healthy Communities for The California Endowment,  on health disparities 
  • Alice Kuo, M.D. professor of pediatrics at UCLA's John Geffen School of Medicine, and Laura Speer, who oversees the annual KidsCount report for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, on child health trends
  • Pat Levitt, Ph.D., provost professor at USC Keck School of Medicine, on how experiences in early childhood lead to structural and biological changes in the brain
  • Field Trip to Children’s Institute to observe evidence­‐based interventions and two-generational approaches to family trauma and violence 
  • A hands-on half-day workshop on data analysis and data visualization led by Paul Overberg, data journalist at the Wall Street Journal, and Ben Jones, director of Tableau Public
  • A session on community engagement featuring Terry Parris Jr., community editor for Pro Publica, and Lindsay Green-Barber, director of strategic research at  Center for Investigative Reporting/Reveal
  • A "toxic tour" to a neighborhood polluted by fallout from local industry
  • Bruce Lanphear, M.D., M.P.H., of Simon Fraser University on the threats to children of toxic exposures
  • Glenda Wrenn, M.D., M.P.H.,  director of behavioral health for the Satcher Health Leadership Institute, Moorehouse School of Medicine, a Johnny Madrid, an advocate for foster youth, on resilience
  • Nancy Cambria, a 2015 National Fellow and reporter at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on challenges in reporting on children living in poverty


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