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USC Annenberg awards $60,000 in health reporting grants

The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism has granted awards totaling $60,000 to support ambitious health journalism projects by the 2013 National Health Journalism fellows.

Among the investigative and explanatory topics that the fellows will explore are the health risks faced by children in Detroit; the impact of community violence on health in Baltimore; the challenges of providing health care to the elderly in Montana; mental health challenges of undocumented immigrants; the impact of hospital closings on residents of small towns; and how different states approach the Affordable Care Act.

Stories that will be undertaken by fellows “have the potential to change lives and communities for the better,” said Michelle Levander, founding director of the fellowships. “It’s rewarding to see the power of traditional media to set a policy agenda and call attention to urgent health challenges.”

Mary Lou Fulton, senior program manager for The California Endowment, said: “We congratulate this outstanding group of fellows, whose work will shine a spotlight on a range of important health issues. We’re proud to support in-depth, high-impact journalism that helps deepen our understanding of how community surroundings shape our opportunities to live a healthy and successful life.”

More than 80 journalists across the nation competed this year for 22 reporting grants from the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism and the National Health Journalism Fellowships.

The 22 journalists will participate in USC Annenberg’s California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships program, a series of seminars, workshops and field trips that run from July 14-18. The program has educated more than 600 journalists since 2005 on the craft and content of health journalism.

USC Annenberg has awarded a combined sum of $32,000 to seven 2013 Hunt grantees to fund yearlong investigative and explanatory reporting projects on critical community health issues.

The fund honors the legacy of 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. Friends and colleagues, the Hunt family and The California Endowment joined together to create and provide ongoing support for the fund.

The other journalists participating in the National Health Journalism Fellowships will receive grants of $2,000 to support projects on pressing health issues in their communities.

The fellowships program is funded with a grant from The California Endowment, which aims to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians.

Here are the 2013 grantees and their projects:

Dennis A. Hunt Health Journalism Fund grantees

Becca Aaronson, a health care reporter for The Texas Tribune, an Austin-based online news site, will report on how changing public policies affect women’s health services in Texas. Grant: $5,000

Liza Gross, a freelance journalist for Environmental Health News, will examine the social, economic and environmental health inequities facing California farm workers. Grant: $4,000

Jennifer Haberkorn, a health care reporter at Politico and Politico Pro, will examine enrollment procedures in several states’ health insurance exchanges and compare the experiences of consumers. Grant: $4,500

Sean Hamill, a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, will report on the effects of hospital closures on small communities. Grant: $5,000

Jason Kane, a reporter-producer for the health unit of PBS NewsHour, will focus on the impact of food insecurity on the health of low-income populations, particularly children. Grant: $6,000

Lisa Riordan Seville, an independent researcher and producer for NBC News, will report on the challenge of providing health care and other services to the growing number of older people in Montana. Grant: $4,000

Eric Whitney, a freelancer reporter for Colorado Public Radio, National Public Radio and Kaiser Health News, will compare Americans’ access to new health benefits in three states. Grant: $3,500

National Health Journalism Fellows ($2,000 grants)

Anthony Advincula, an editor, writer and national media outreach coordinator for New America Media (Pacific News Service), will produce a series of stories on mental health issues of U.S.-born children whose parents were deported or detained for immigration violations.

Erika Beras, the behavioral health reporter at WESA, the public radio station in Pittsburgh, will report a series of stories about the health issues faced by refugees.

Mikaela Conley, a freelance writer, will investigate HIV/AIDS hot spots for

Karen Bouffard, a reporter at the Detroit News, will report on health risks faced by children in the Motor City.

Lois Collins, a reporter and columnist at the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, will explore the health impact of social isolation on elderly parents whose children have disabilities.

Sierra Crane-Murdoch, a contributing editor at High Country News, will report on an unexplained childhood cancer cluster.

Emily DePrang, a staff writer at The Texas Observer, will examine how Texas could save money and prevent human suffering by increasing funding for its public mental health system.

Karla Escamilla, the Southern Arizona reporter for Univision Arizona, will look at immigration status-related health problems of undocumented U.S. residents.

Patricia Guadalupe, Washington correspondent for the Hispanic Link News Service, will look at the impact of an anticipated shortage of health care providers on the growing Latino community in Washington, D.C.

Sandy Hausman, Charlottesville bureau chief for Virginia Public Radio, will report on the unique medical problems of prison inmates and the projected costs of caring for an aging population of prisoners.

Amanda Mascarelli, a freelance journalist, will report for Science magazine on the links between exposure to household pesticides and neurodevelopmental effects for low-income children.

Johanes Roselló, a general assignment reporter for Mundo Hispánico in Georgia, will look into the effect of deportations on the mental health of Latino families left behind in Georgia, as well as barriers to services.

Annabelle Sedano, a general assignment and technology reporter for KMEX-TV in Los Angeles, will co-report with Alonso Yáñez on the short-term and long-term health effects of deportation procedures.

Andrea Walker, health reporter for The Baltimore Sun, will write about the impact of violence on residents’ health.

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USC Annenberg awards $60,000 in health reporting grants

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