USC Annenberg Receives Two Major Grants from The California Endowment
In an effort to improve the quality of health communication and health journalism in Los Angeles and across the country, The California Endowment has awarded two major grants to programs directed by the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California.
The awards include a $3.5 million grant over three years to the USC Annenberg / California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships and a two-year, $640,000 grant to the Metamorphosis Project. The first grant helps build the capacity of reporters to cover complex health and health policy issues, while the second grant is designed to better understand the ways information on health and other issues is shared and disseminated within neighborhoods and communities.
“USC Annenberg is delighted to see our partnership with The California Endowment deepen and expand,” USC Annenberg Dean Ernest J. Wilson III said. “Through our professional development programs and research projects, USC Annenberg is proud to create a more informed and active citizenry and improve health outcomes in local communities.”
“Keeping residents informed and engaged around health is critical in efforts to transform communities into neighborhoods that support and promote health,” said Robert K. Ross, M.D, president and CEO of The Endowment. “Giving the media the tools it needs to connect the dots between complex policy issues and the issues facing neighborhoods and families on the ground is key to supporting meaningful engagement and informed public debate.”
The all-expenses-paid Health Journalism Fellowships – which have provided professional education to more than 350 journalists since 2005 – offer journalists from mainstream and ethnic media across the country a chance to step away from the newsroom for four- to six-day sessions to hone their health reporting skills. In intimate workshops, field trips and discussions, Fellows learn from the country’s most respected health and medical experts, top journalists in the field and each other.
The program will continue specialty tracks, such as a broadcast track tailored to the needs and deadline pressures of television and radio journalists. A national track will encourage collaboration between mainstream and fast-growing ethnic media by awarding a $2,000 stipend to selected journalists who will delve into in-depth projects that leverage the strengths of both partnering media organizations. Fellowships seminars in 2009 will focus on the interconnections between environment, class, race and opportunity and their cumulative impact on community health.
“We are grateful for the visionary leadership and support of The California Endowment,” said Michelle Levander, founding director of The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships. “In today’s resource-strapped newsrooms, professional journalism education is more valuable than ever. Our fellows hit the ground running when they return to their news outlets: they are armed with dozens of story ideas, new sources, and strategies for smart, multimedia journalism.”
The new grant also allows the Health Journalism Fellowships to expand in new directions. With the Foundation’s support, the Fellowships will launch a new Web site, reportingonhealth.com, in early 2009, showcasing fellowship projects and offering resources to journalists reporting on community health and health policy issues. The expanded program will also educate some new constituencies, reaching out to editorial leaders and writers for consumer health Web sites and participants in community-based journalism projects.
The grant to The Metamorphosis Project, USC Annenberg’s 10-year program exploring the impact on urban communities of globalization, population diversity and new communication technology, will investigate ways to engage South Los Angeles residents, local media, and community organizations to support healthier communities.
“The members of the Metamorphosis Project research team are thrilled to have the opportunity to put into practice years of Metamorphosis research,” said USC Annenberg communication professor Sandra J. Ball-Rokeach, principal investigator of The Metamorphosis Project. “Our goal is to maximize the effectiveness of California Endowment programs that are designed to strengthen the fabric of diverse communities.”
This multi-method project by Metamorphosis will identify central “networkers” – the community organizations and local media that are already well integrated into the storytelling network and known by residents – and bring them together to increase community capacity. “By increasing the strength of connections between community organizations, local media and the people they serve, the communities’ communication networks will be made more robust and community improvements more secure over time,” Ball-Rokeach said.
For more information on the USC Annenberg / California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, visit www.reportingonhealth.com.
For more information on The Metamorphosis Project at USC Annenberg, visit www.metamorph.org.
The mission of The California Endowment 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. For more information, visit www.calendow.org.
Located in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California, the USC Annenberg School for Communication (annenberg.usc.edu) is among the nation’s leading institutions devoted to the study of journalism and communication, and their impact on politics, culture and society. With an enrollment of more than 1,900 graduate and undergraduate students, USC Annenberg offers degree programs in journalism, communication, public diplomacy and public relations.