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About AHCJ: General News

$200,000 grant strengthens project-based reporting fellowship Date: 07/22/14

AHCJ Reporting Fellowships on Health Care Performance COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism, the educational arm of the Association of Health Care Journalists, has been awarded a grant of $200,000 to continue a fellowship program that helps journalists understand and report on the performance of local health care markets and the U.S. health system as a whole.

The AHCJ Reporting Fellowships on Health Care Performance were launched in 2010.

The program, supported by The Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based private foundation, allows experienced print, broadcast and online reporters to pursue significant reporting projects over a year’s time related to the U.S. health care system. The reporters concentrate on the performance of health care systems – or significant parts of those systems – locally, regionally or nationally. The fellows are able to examine policies, practices and outcomes, as well as the roles of various stakeholders.

"Too often, the finances and inner workings of hospitals and health systems are black boxes," said Karl Stark, president of the AHCJ board of directors and the health editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer.
"Through this generous grant, the fellowship provides reporters with the resources and tools to shine light into dark places and pursue stories that serve the public interest."

Guidance is provided by AHCJ fellowship leaders through customized seminars, conference calls and email consultations. The fellowship covers the cost of attending the three seminars, an AHCJ national conference and a regional workshop. Each fellow can tap a $4,000 project allowance to defray the cost of field reporting, health data analysis and other project-related research. In addition, each fellow receives a $2,500 fellowship award upon the successful completion of the project.

Each reporter continues in his or her current job and is expected to complete a significant and unique reporting package or series by the end of the fellowship year. The field reporting assistance allows them to complete site visits in relevant locations around the country for interviewing stakeholders, collecting data relevant to the health systems and employing any technology to deliver multiplatform stories.

"We’ve seen some amazing stories come out of this program as fellows tackle projects they could not have otherwise pursued,” said AHCJ Executive Director Len Bruzzese. “Their work has led to several journalism awards, but even better, local and national audiences have thanked these reporters for trying to make a difference. We’ve been so proud of what they’ve accomplished.”

Applications for the 2015 fellowships are being accepted until Oct. 1, Bruzzese said. Fellows will be selected competitively by a panel of journalists appointed by AHCJ.

"Reporting on health systems, either locally or nationally, is a tricky business,” said Barry Scholl, the Fund's senior vice president for communications and publishing. “In its first four years, this program has helped a group of extremely talented journalists produce some terrific and well-researched projects. Especially during a time of tumultuous change in U.S. health care, The Commonwealth Fund is proud to continue to work with AHCJ in sponsoring these fellowships.”

With the intense interest in health care reform over the past few years, examinations of health systems have been in the news. They've included profiles of towns where health care expenditures dwarf the national average and spotlights on hospitals and health systems held up as examples from which others can learn. This fellowship attempts to encourage more reporting that will illuminate these often-complicated topics.

AHCJ and Commonwealth republish or post online links to the fellows' projects at the end of the fellowship years.

The Association of Health Care Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing public understanding of health care issues. With about 1,500 members across the United States and around the globe, its mission is to improve the quality, accuracy and visibility of health care reporting, writing and editing. The association and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism provide training, resources and a professional home for journalists. Offices are based at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation that aims to promote a high-performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality and greater efficiency, particularly for society's most vulnerable. The Fund carries out this mandate by supporting independent research on health care issues and making grants to improve health care practice and policy.