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USC Annenberg names 20 National Fellows and awards grants for reporting on health and child well-being

The Center for Health Journalism at USC Annenberg will welcome 20 journalists from around the nation to the University of Southern California on July 28 for five days of intensive training to improve their coverage of vulnerable children and families and community health.

The competitively chosen journalists will return home with reporting grants of $2,000 to $10,000 from the Fund for Journalism on Child Well-Being, the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism and the center to assist them with undertaking ambitious explanatory or investigative reporting projects over the next six months. The center also provides mentoring by veteran journalists to all program participants. Five of the journalists will receive additional $2,000 grants and specialized mentoring on community engagement. 

The journalists will be at USC to participate in the Center for Health Journalism’s National Fellowship, five days of seminars, workshops and field trips that will run from July 28-August 1. The program will focus on vulnerable children and families and the community conditions and life experiences that contribute to — or threaten — their well-being. Best-selling author Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here and An American Summer, will kick off the Fellowship with a keynote address. During the week the Fellows will also hear form experts on childhood trauma, community health and engaged journalism and make field visits to a public school Wellness Center and Homeboy Industries to learn how these organizations are addressing the residual effects of trauma in their clients’ lives.

The 2019 National Fellowship is funded by generous grants from The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, First5 LA, and the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism. The program also receives support from The California Endowment, which provides core resources to the center’s family of programs.

“At the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we are dedicated to improving the health of all who live in America,” said Jordan Reese, the foundation’s director of media relations. “It is our honor to support the public service of journalism, the center, and their Fellows’ ongoing commitment to the most vulnerable among us.”

“This is journalism at its best,” said Norris West, the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s director of strategic communications. “Every year, the center’s fellows highlight critical issues in the communities they cover and across America, showing deep and systemic challenges children and families face and often pointing the way toward solutions. Casey is proud to have funded this program over the past five years.”

Michelle Levander, founding director of the USC Center for Health Journalism, said, “America’s children and families face unprecedented challenges today that impact where and how they live and whether they have access to health care and other social welfare benefits.

“The in-depth impact journalism supported by the Center for Health Journalism’s 2019 National Fellowship promises to broaden public awareness and highlight opportunities for fundamental change.”

Among the topics the fellows will explore in their projects are the federal government’s inattention to fetal alcohol syndrome, with a focus on North Dakota; racial disparities in infant mortality in North Carolina; the disproportionate impact of diabetes on low-income children; the risks of climate change-fueled wildfires to undocumented workers; the impact on health of inadequate environmental surveillance by Florida state government; the health threat to children in Utah of high levels of radon; and marijuana usage among pregnant Latinas.

Since 2005, the Fellowships program has educated more than 900 journalists on the craft and content of health journalism, with an emphasis on the relationship between health and place. Previous Fellowship projects can be found here

2019 grantees of the Fund for Journalism on Child Well-Being

  • Lynn Bonner, Raleigh News & Observer
  • Larrison Campbell, Mississippi Today
  • Kavitha Cordoza, Washington, D.C.-based freelance reporter
  • Briana Ehley, POLITICO
  • Sarah Gantz, Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Allison Graham, Roanoke Times
  • Jacqueline Howard, CNN
  • Sarah Hughes, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
  • Jessica Seaman, Denver Post

Grantees of the Dennis Hunt Fund for Health Journalism

  • Issac Bailey, Myrtle Beach Herald
  • Cassie Chew, Chicago Reporter
  • Teresa Cotsirilos, KALW public radio in San Francisco
  • Nada Hassanein, Tallahassee Democrat
  • Will James, KNKX public radio in Seattle
  • Elizabeth Koh, Miami Herald
  • Eilis O’Neill, The Nation
  • Christopher Walljasper, Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

Center for Health Journalism grantees

  • Sara Israelson-Hartley, Deseret News
  • Fatima Navarette, Univision in Fresno
  • Sally Ryan, for the New York Times