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Journalists receive grants for health investigations

USC Annenberg awards funding for reports on prostate cancer, pollution and Alzheimer’s

Michelle Levander with journalists
Michelle Levander, founding director of the USC Annenberg/California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, talks with the new cohort of fellows at the program's opening reception. (Photo/Albert Sabaté)

The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships at the USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism announced awards to support investigative and explanatory reporting projects on several topics, including the implementation of the Affordable Care Act; the disproportionate impact of prostrate cancer on African-American men in North Carolina; the health effects of pollution in Detroit and the Pacific Northwest; and the economic and human impact of Alzheimer’s in South Florida.

Twenty-two journalists from across the country will receive reporting grants from the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism and the 2014 National Health Journalism Fellowship. Six of the fellows also will receive community engagement grants as part of a pilot program to expand the reach and impact of their projects.

All 22 journalists will participate in USC Annenberg’s California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships — a series of seminars, workshops and field trips from July 13-17 on the University Park Campus. Since 2005, the program has educated more than 600 journalists on the craft and content of health journalism, with an emphasis on the relationship between health and place.

Each fellow will return home to complete a reporting project over the next six months to a year, with guidance from senior journalists. Observers can find 2014 national fellows’ blog posts on their planned projectsPast projects can also be found.

Among other topics the fellows will explore: one state’s effort to wipe out Hepatitis C; the effects of a lack of running water and flush toilets on the health of thousands of Alaska Natives; and how the deinstitutionalization of people with developmental disabilities and mental illness has contributed to a number of untimely deaths in the South.

The Hunt fund honors the legacy of Dennis Hunt, a visionary 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 fellowships program is funded with a grant from The California Endowment, whose mission is 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.

Michelle Levander, founding director of the USC Annenberg/California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, which hosts the Hunt and national journalism programs, said: “We applaud the vision and ambition of this excellent group of reporters and their editors. They are tackling health stories that need to be told and that promise to make an enormous difference to their communities.”

Mary Lou Fulton, senior program manager for The California Endowment, added: “Thanks to the vision of Dennis Hunt, the program has pioneered a new kind of health journalism that goes beyond coverage of medical care to explore the many ways in which community environments affect our well-being. Dennis’ legacy will live on through the high-profile, high-impact reporting of this year’s fellows.”

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Journalists receive grants for health investigations

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