Sometimes it seems like all I ever hear about is the bad in Del Norte County.
I've heard stories of children who have been abused by their parents, who don't eat real food at home, who have cavities in every tooth, whose parents are addicted to drugs and who are "warm homeless" and have a place to sleep, but it's not a home. I see the obese children, teen moms and meth heads around town. I read the statistics about how Del Norte has the highest poverty rate in California, it's high unemployment rate and its ranking as an unhealthy county.
Del Norte can be a very depressing place.
Whenever I think about these stories, the untold ones, and wish I had more time to focus on these problems. But in a daily newsroom environment with three (soon to be only two) reporters and mandatory days off, all of these stories seem to fall to the wayside when there are board meetings to attend and election's coming up. These are excuses though and to be good journalists that rise above these circumstances, we have to find the time to report and write these stories.
For the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship, I want to tackle three stories that have been on my mind for a while: a group of doctors, farmers and parents have banded together to revamp the school meals to be more healthy; cuts made the county's health programs and how those have affected employees and recipients and the prevalence of tooth decay in children and its causes.
Hopefully these stories will give me a better grasp on Del Norte's health issues and lead to more stories of what's being done to solve these problems. I would like to give my editor some more positive, rather than negative, stories.