USC Annenberg Awards Health Journalism Grants of $57,750

Newswise — LOS ANGELES, CA. July 18, 2012 -- USC Annenberg today announced journalism awards totaling $57,750 to support investigative and explanatory reporting projects on topics ranging from the causes and consequences of America’s childhood obesity epidemic to the health impacts of environmental pollutants on low-income communities.

More than 80 journalists nationwide competed this year for 22 reporting grants from the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism, the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health Journalism Fund and The National Health Journalism Fellowships.

All 22 journalists participate in USC Annenberg’s California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships program, a series of seminars, workshops and a field trip that is held July 22-26. Since 2005, the Health Journalism Fellowships program has educated more than 500 journalists on the craft and content of health journalism.

Among the investigative and explanatory topics the fellows will explore are the roles played by community health clinics in a changing health care landscape; the looming debate over the benefits insurers will be required to provide for chronically ill and disabled children; the health risks of pesticide exposure; how the urban environment affects good health; the reasons for cancer disparities in a community in Virginia; and barriers to accessing mental health care in Montana.

USC Annenberg’s four 2012 Dennis A. Hunt grantees will receive grants ranging from $2,550 to $8,000 to fund ambitious yearlong reporting projects.

The Hunt fund honors the legacy of Dennis A. Hunt, a visionary communication leader at The California Endowment who was dedicated to improving and supporting high-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.

“Through these innovative projects, we'll develop a deeper understanding about how health happens where we live, work and play -- not just in a doctor's office,” said Mary Lou Fulton, senior program manager for media for The California Endowment. “Dennis Hunt was a champion of this idea, and his legacy lives on through the Hunt grants. They support journalism focused on the community health issues that were so important to him."

Two California journalists will receive grants from the new Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health Journalism Fund, which the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health established at USC Annenberg to encourage reporting on children’s health and critical health care policy issues in California. The foundation, based in Palo Alto, strives to elevate awareness of children's health and increase the quality and accessibility of children's health care.

“We welcome the opportunity to highlight the real-world effects of health care policy on children and their families, particularly children who are living with complex, chronic conditions,” said David Alexander, M.D., the foundation’s president and CEO. “Our hope is that these stories will generate public interest in developing a health care system that supports families and allows all children to reach their highest health potential.”

Other journalists participating in the National Fellowship will receive grants of $2,000 to support projects on pressing health issues in their communities.

Michelle Levander , director of the USC Annenberg/California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, which hosts the Hunt, Lucile Packard and National journalism programs, said, “The health issues that our fellows will tackle cry out for journalistic attention. Our fellows will bring to light environmental justice issues that have been neglected, policy decisions that contribute to ill health in local communities and ways that communities are tackling chronic ills.”

The National Health Journalism Fellowships program is funded with a generous 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. The Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health is funding the program’s new children’s health reporting grants, and family, friends and The California Endowment provide ongoing support to the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism.

Here are the 2012 Grantees and their projects:

Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism Grantees

Heather Boerner, a Bay Area-based freelance health journalist and editor, will receive $4,500 to report for National Nurse, a union magazine, on the impacts of immigration status on health, including health disparities, workplace health hazards and access to health care.

Taunya English, the senior writer on the health and science desk for WHYY public radio in eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware, will receive $2,550 to undertake a multimedia and mapping exploration of efforts to improve health by overhauling the places where people work, play and live.

Burt Hubbard, editorial director of I-News, a Denver-based online news site, will receive $5,700 to examine the demographics behind the increase in Colorado’s childhood obesity rate and the implications for the state, as well as how school districts are dealing with it.

Steve Wilmsen, enterprise editor of The Boston Globe, will receive $8,000 to help underwrite a yearlong effort by a team of reporters to understand the roots of violence in an inner city Boston neighborhood, despite decades of effort to curb it.

Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health Journalism Fund

Elaine Korry, a Bay Area-based freelance reporter, will receive $4,000 to report for The California Report, a show produced by KQED, on the package of essential health benefits that will determine children’s health care coverage in California under the Affordable Care Act.

David Danelski, a reporter for The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, will receive $3,000 to probe how Inland Southern California's increasing truck and train traffic affects children's health and the ongoing costs of air pollution-related harm to children.

National Health Journalism Fellows(each receives $2,000)

Ana Elena Azpurua, a multimedia reporter with Al Día, a Spanish-language newspaper published by The Dallas Morning News, will report on three stories of particular interest to Latinos in North Texas: the impact of Mexico’s war on drugs on the mental health of Mexican Americans; the relationship between teen motherhood and child maltreatment and neglect; and challenges faced by Latino families with autistic children.

Cara DeGette, managing editor of Colorado Public News, will report on the health impacts of pollution on low-income populations.

Andrew Doughman, a reporter for the Herald-Journal in Spartanburg, South Carolina, will report on a citywide effort to improve one of the blighted neighborhoods in Spartanburg, a mid-sized, Southern city saddled with generational poverty.

Sergio Flores, a reporter and backup anchor for Univision 19 in Sacramento, will look into the risks faced by farm workers and their families from exposure to pesticides.

Anna Gorman, a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, will report on community health centers and their role in the healthcare overhaul.

Amy Jeter, a health reporter for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Virginia, will investigate why one urban city in her readership area has some of the highest cancer mortality rates in the state.

Valerie Lego, the health reporter for WZZM (ABC) in Grand Rapids, Michigan, will look at the impact of the nation’s worst agricultural disaster on health.

Katy Murphy, an education reporter for the Oakland Tribune and Bay Area News Group, will share a grant with Allison Yin, a freelance photographer, to examine the disproportionate impact of asthma on low-income, African-American children, and the strain it places on families and schools.

Carlos Javier Ortiz, a freelance photographer in Chicago, will document the impact of violence on young people in Chicago for The Chicago Reporter and a website,

Erica Peterson, the environment reporter for WFPL, the public radio affiliate in Louisville, Kentucky, will examine the health effects of industrial pollution on residents in two Louisville neighborhoods.

Tammie Smith, a reporter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, will report on the importance of place to health status in Richmond, a city with some of the most dismal health outcomes in Virginia.

Cindy Uken, the health reporter at the Billings Gazette, Montana’s largest newspaper, will examine the impact of the dire shortage of psychiatrists in Montana, which is mostly rural.

Laura Ungar, the health reporter for The Courier-Journal in Louisville, will explore barriers to treatment in Kentucky for prescription drug addicts.

David Wahlberg, the health reporter at the Wisconsin State Journal, will analyze Wisconsin’s system for disciplining doctors.

Tom Wilemon, a health reporter for The Tennessean in Nashville, will explore diabetes and hypertension issues.

Stephanie Woodard, a freelance reporter, will examine a children’s health issue in two Northern Plains communities and one Alaskan village for Indian Country Today and

Alison Yin, a freelance photographer and multimedia journalist in Oakland, will share a grant with Katy Murphy, a reporter for the Oakland Tribune, to explore the disproportionate impact of asthma on low-income, African-American children, and the strain it places on families and schools.

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