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2018 California Fellowship

Event Type: 
Date and Time: 
Sunday, March 18, 2018 - 5:00pm to Thursday, March 22, 2018 - 2:00pm
Program Description: 

Taught by prize-winning journalists, community health leaders, policy analysts and healthcare experts, the 2018 California Fellowship will focus on two broad themes:

  • How neighborhood life, social inequities, race, education and the environment influence health, and
  • Changes in the healthcare landscape. We will focus attention on the enormous implications for California of the effort by President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. 

The Fellowship includes a $1,000 reporting stipend to participating journalists to defray costs associated with ambitious reporting projects.  For the 2018 Fellowship, we're most interested in projects that focus on health  disparities, the social determinants of health, barriers to healthcare access for the safety net population, domestic and/or community violence as public health problems, community conditions (e.g. environmental toxins or slum housing) that contribute to health problems and the promise of healthcare innovation. Up to two California Fellows will receive grants of up to $3,500 for reporting Fellowship projects that focus on the health, wellbeing of children in Los Angeles County through age 5,  including such topics as the importance of healthy nutrition from conception on;  disparities in the provision of prenatal care; the early diagnosis of development problems; school readiness; models of parenting education; the effects of trauma during childhood; and how public systems, including health and child welfare, serve children in this age group. The resulting stories can appear in an outlet with a local, statewide or national audience.

In addition, five California Fellows will be chosen to receive an additional grant of $1,000 to $2,000 for community engagement, plus specialized mentoring. [Click here to learn more about our community engagement initiative.]

During five days of field trips, workshops and seminars, Fellows will learn about new data sources, hear about effective community engagement strategies and gain new perspectives on pressing health issues. During the Fellowship week, Fellows will also get plenty of time to discuss with experts, and with each other, strategies for covering health news with authority and sophistication. We will also bring in editors, at our expense, for an in-depth project conference. Fellows will return home with great sources and new ideas for how to tell complex health stories. Fellows also will receive six months of one-on-one mentoring from veteran journalists who guide them through work on major Fellowship 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 California, 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.  General assignments reporters as well as those who cover local government, the environment, crime, homelessness and education will benefit.

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, 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 Martha Shirk at with questions about your eligibility.


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. 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: California Fellows each receive a reporting stipend of $1,000 to offset the costs of ambitious investigative and explanatory journalism. Journalism fellows also receive six months of mentoring from senior journalists as they usher their projects to completion.

How to Apply

Click here for details about what we're looking for in your application.  

All applications must be submitted through our online application.   Note:  If you encounter technical problems when you're trying to apply, please email

Click here to access the supplemental application for a Community Engagement grant. Only journalists who are selected for the California Fellowship will be eligible to receive a Community Engagement grant.


Highlights of the 2017 California Fellowship

“From Food Stamps to the Opioid Epidemic: An Intimate Approach to Covering Health,” the keynote address by Eli Saslow, reporter for the Washington Post

“Health Disparities: The Root Causes of Sickness and Health,” a talk by Anthony Iton, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., senior vice president of Healthy Communities at The California Endowment

“A Brief History of Obamacare,” a panel discussion featuring  Michael Cousineau, D.P.H., professor of clinical preventive medicine at Keck School of Medicine at USC; Laurel Lucia, manager of the healthcare program at UC Berkeley Labor Center; and Michael Lujan co-founder and chief sales officer at Limelight Health

“A Vision for the Future: Republican Plans for Repeal and Replace,” a talk by Lanhee Chen, Ph.D., David and Diane Steffy Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University

“The Dismantling of Obamacare: Reporting on Health Care in a Time of Uncertainty,” a talk by  Noam Levey, health reporter, Los Angeles Times

“Preparing for Trumpcare: Scenarios for a Radically Different Healthcare Model,” a conversation with Peter Long, Ph.D., president and CEO, Blue Shield of California Foundation, and Frank Meza, M.D., a consultant to AltaMed Health Services        

"Challenges to a Fragile Safety Net," a panel discussion featuring  Kimberly Dixon, M.D.,  a pediatrician with Clinica Sierra Vista in Baksersfield, and Pia V. Escudero, L.C.S.W., director of School Mental Health Crisis Counseling & Intervention Services at the Los Angeles Unified School District

“Telling Health Stories with Context and Balance,” a workshop led by Robert J. Davis,  Ph.D., M.P.H., president and editor-in-chief, Everwell

“Health Reporting Datapalooza,” a workshop led by Meghan Hoyer, data journalist, The Associated Press

“Data Reporting: Chronicling the Opioid Epidemic in California Communities,” a workshop led by 2016 California Fellow Leo Castaneda, a reporter at inewsource

“Reframing the Conversation: a Workshop on Engaged Journalism,” led by Cole Goins, Reporting/Reveal, and Jesse Hardman,  freelance radio reporter and founder of WWNO’s  “Listening Post”

A tour of the ER at LAC+USC Medical Center followed by a discussion about possible impacts of Trump’s healthcare agenda on a county ER, featuring Edward Newton, M.D. professor of emergency medicine at Keck School of Medicine of USC, and Carl Richard Chudnofsky, M.D., chair and professor of emergency medicine at Keck












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