From Medical Errors at Rural Hospitals to Violence in the Inner City: We Award $53,500 to Support Ambitious Reporting Projects
It takes guts to embark on a major journalism project these days. Newsroom budgets are tight; staffing in newsrooms is getting thinner by the day, and it can be lonely to invest in a costly reporting endeavor as a freelancer.
Yet when we called for project proposals as part of our recruitment for the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism and the National Health Journalism Fellowships, we were flooded with ideas that were thoughtful, well-researched, and provocative. It has been heartening to see this creativity and ambition.
As we enter the fourth year of our National Health Journalism Fellowships, we've had a chance to see the excellent journalism that has resulted from prior years' proposals. To name just a few: Emily Ramshaw's moving series in the New York Times and the Texas Tribune on third-world health conditions in Texas' colonias, ramshackle communities along the U.S.-Mexico border; Kari Lydersen's project, still underway, on the environmental impact of ports in poor communities across American and Maureen O'Hagan's critical examination of obesity and diabetes prevention programs for children in Seattle.
Our 2011 fellows also envision projects that are far-reaching and potentially ground-breaking. With the generous support of The California Endowment and the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism, we have been able to provide reporting grants ranging from $2,000 to $7,000 to support that work – with awards to 19 journalists totaling $53,500. Fellows plan to tackle reporting on violence in Wilmingon's inner-city neighborhoods as a health hazard for residents; Native Americans and access to health care in Portland; the challenges confronting Puerto Rico's "Mi Salud," the Medicaid equivalent in the Commonwealth; and the quality of care and medical errors at local hospitals in Oregon. The fellows have gathered this week to talk about health and health journalism. To join that conversation, check out our Fellowship blog.
I applaud the courage and smarts of the 2011 Hunt and National fellows. And I look forward to sharing their work with you on ReportingonHealth.org, our online community for health and health journalism.
To learn more about the projects and the fellows themselves, please see the USC Annenberg press release below. You can also look up each of the individual fellows on ReportingonHealth to hear what each of them has to say about the reporting ahead.
California Endowment Health Journalism Fellows Announced
The USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism announced journalism awards totaling $53,500 to support investigative and explanatory reporting projects on topics ranging from health in America's underserved communities to the challenges for health reform and quality medical care.
More than 60 journalists nationwide competed this year for 19 journalism grants from the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism and the National Health Journalism Fellowships - both programs of the school's California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships.
As part of the program, which is funded by a grant from The California Endowment, the journalism fellows gathered this week in Los Angeles for six days of workshops, seminars and field trips that explore community health issues. They then continue their fellowship work on ambitious reporting projects over the next six months to a year.
"We need high-quality, high-impact health journalism now more than ever to keep community health issues squarely in the public spotlight," said Mary Lou Fulton, program manager, communication and media grants, at The California Endowment.
USC Annenberg's 2011 Dennis A. Hunt grantees will receive grants ranging from $2,000 to $7,000 to fund year-long investigative and explanatory reporting projects on critical community health issues. These include projects on community health challenges confronting predominantly Latino communities in the Midwest; West Virginia's rising tide of chronic disease and obesity; the underlying causes of health disparities among Native Americans in Oregon; the health problems in California's disadvantaged, unincorporated communities; the health impact of pollution in Maywood, Calif.; and the prevention innovations funded under federal health care reform.
The Hunt fund honors the legacy of Dennis A. Hunt, a communication leader at The California Endowment who was dedicated to improving and supporting quality reporting on the health of communities. Hunt died in a car crash in 2007 at the age of 60. Hundreds of his friends and colleagues, the Hunt family and The California Endowment joined together to create and provide ongoing support for the fund.
"Dennis' legacy is honored with these important stories. Hunt fellows are writing about critical health issues in communities that are often overlooked or forgotten," the Hunt family said in a statement.
The 14 other national fellows participating in the fellowship will receive grants of $2,000 to support projects on pressing health issues in their communities.
"Our journalism grants have proved to be excellent investments," said Geneva Overholser, director of the USC Annenberg School of Journalism. "Great health journalism has been produced. And some new media start-ups have parlayed our initial grants to secure foundation funding for several years of health reporting in their communities. It's been exciting to contribute to the new media ecosystem in this fashion."
Michelle Levander, director of the USC Annenberg/California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, which administers the Hunt and national journalism programs, said: "Our health journalism fellows are provoking important conversations and change in local communities across the nation. We expect great things from the 2011 fellows and know that Dennis Hunt would have been proud to see the fruits of the national and Hunt fellowships."
Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism Grantees
Bill Graves has worked 32 years as a daily newspaper journalist, the last 21 at The Oregonian, where he covers health and higher education. Mr. Graves will receive a grant of $5,500 to document how Native Americans are failing to get the health care they need in Oregon and try to identify the reasons for this disparity. He will create a "virtual longhouse" on the Web where Native Americans can discuss the problem and offer solutions.
Sarah Kliff recently joined the Washington Post to write about health care policy and politics. Prior to joining the Post, she covered state implementation of the federal health reform law for Politico and also co-authored Politico Pulse, a daily health policy tip sheet. Ms. Kliff will receive $3,000 for a project that will examine the health reform law's unprecedented investment in preventing chronic diseases.
Jeff Kelly Lowenstein is the database and investigative editor at Hoy, the second largest Spanish-language newspaper in the United States. Mr. Kelly Lowenstein will receive a grant of $3,000 to produce three stories about community health challenges facing predominantly Latino communities in Chicago and the Midwest.
Kate Long has been a contract writing coach and reporter for the Charleston Gazette for 26 years and an independent producer and reporter for West Virginia Public Broadcasting for 15 years. Ms. Long will receive a grant of $7,000 to produce a multimedia project for both the Gazette and West Virginia Public Radio that will explore West Virginia's rising tide of chronic disease and obesity.
Janet Wilson is a freelance writer based in Orange County. She received a Dennis A. Hunt grant in 2009 to write about environmental health issues in Maywood, California. She will receive a supplemental grant of $2,000 to underwrite additional reporting on Maywood for publication by California Watch, an investigative news site.
Bernice Yeung is a San Francisco-based freelance writer, editor, and producer. Ms. Yeung will receive a grant of $5,000 to produce a multimedia project for California Watch, an investigative news site, on the health problems in California's disadvantaged unincorporated communities. The package of stories will be offered to California news outlets in both English and Spanish.
National Health Journalism Fellows
Elizabeth Baier is a reporter and producer for Minnesota Public Radio, where she reports on a wide range of topics, from rural and agricultural issues to education and immigration. Project: An exploration of how food issues interact with the interior lives of rural immigrants who now call the upper Midwest home.
Martha Bebinger reports on health care for WBUR in Boston. Project: How the effort to curb health care spending, especially the shift to global payments, will affect patients in Massachusetts.
Kathryn Canavan is a freelance reporter in Wilmington, Del. Project: She will show how a lethal combination of poverty and gunplay are harming family life in Wilmington's African-American neighborhoods (to be published by DelawareFirst.org, and DelawareBlack.com.)
Betsy Cliff is a health reporter at The Bulletin, a daily newspaper in Bend, Oregon. Project: An investigation into the causes and incidence of medical errors, particularly at rural hospitals.
Sheree Crute is an award-winning writer and editor who covers a broad range of health topics and specializes in consumer and multicultural health. Project: An exploration into whether the latest potentially life-saving discoveries from the world of medical research will have any lasting impact on the nation's health disparities (to be published in both Heart & Soul and TheRoot.com.)
Philip Graitcer, D.M.D., M.P.H., has been a fulltime independent radio producer for five years, following an 18-year career at the Centers for Disease Control. Project: A three-part radio series for WABE about Grady Hospital, Atlanta's public hospital.
Vicky Hallett edits Fit, the health and fitness section of Express, the Washington Post's free tabloid, and also writes a bi-weekly fitness column for The Washington Post. Project: A look at how exercise deserts in certain neighborhoods keep people inactive, just as food deserts make it hard for those same people to eat a healthy diet.
Pamela K. Johnson is editorial development director at ABILITY Magazine, a bimonthly magazine that focuses on health, disability, and human potential. Project: Profiles of food activists who are planting seeds of change around the country, from the garden to the supermarket.
Caitlin Yoshiko Kandil is a freelance reporter for Boston's Bay State Banner, the largest African American-owned newspaper in New England. Project: The challenges to healthy eating for low-income African Americans in Boston.
Ryan McNeill is computer-assisted reporting editor at The Dallas Morning News. Project: Patient safety issues in hospitals.
Shannon Muchmore is the health reporter for the Tulsa World. Project: The lack of health care accessibility in Oklahoma.
Magaly Olivero has been writing about health and wellness for decades as a freelance writer, magazine editor, and newspaper reporter. Project: The underlying issues behind the teen birth rate among Latinos in Connecticut, for C-HIT, an investigative health news website, and La Voz Hispana, Connecticut's largest Spanish-language newspaper and website.
Marga Parés Arroyo has been a reporter for El Nuevo Día, the largest circulation newspaper in San Juan, Puerto Rico, since 1994. Project: A look at how well Mi Salud, Puerto Rico's health care program for the poor, is meeting the needs of its 1.4 million enrollees.
Travis Pillow covers state government for the Florida Independent, a nonprofit news and public affairs site. Project: A comparison of the efficiency and effectiveness of public and private hospitals.