About AHCJ: General News

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust supports health journalists with $1.1 million Date: 01/25/11

Jan. 25, 2010

Len Bruzzese, AHCJ Executive Director, 573-884-5606, bruzzesel@missouri.edu

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 nearly $1.1 million to improve training resources for health journalists.

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust made the three-year grant of $1,097,000 to the Missouri-based center to increase the range of training opportunities for current journalists and to help develop new health journalists across the country.

"The real stories on the state of health care can be found at the local level," said Len Bruzzese, executive director of AHCJ. "The Helmsley Trust's generous support will allow us to expand our training in underserved geographic areas and in underreported topic areas to better assist local reporters in telling those stories."

The funding will support the annual conference of the association, starting with Health Journalism 2011 this spring in Philadelphia; regional workshops on niche health topics; an annual rural health journalism workshop; and three conference fellowship programs assisting ethnic media, rural reporters and journalists on non-health beats who routinely face health-related stories, such as education, environment, business and government.

Significantly, the funding will allow the continuation – and expansion – of an intense regional fellowship program that has trained dozens of journalists in Kansas and Missouri over the past four years. Each year, the new AHCJ-Regional Health Journalism Fellowships program will select 10-12 reporters, editors and producers from a different region of the country for customized training. The yearlong fellowships are meant to improve abilities to provide meaningful coverage of critical issues and assist and motivate fellows to increase such coverage.

The funding also will allow updates to the technology used to produce the association's website, healthjournalism.org, and to increase the resources available there. The site assists reporters working on health-related stories with tip sheets, reporting guides, government data, training presentations and resource links.

"As America struggles with access and the rising cost of health care, it is important that the information on choice and cost is available to the consumers.  New technology allows consumers to manage their healthcare closer to home and at less cost.  Giving journalists access to information on those technologies is important to the Helmsley Charitable Trust," noted Rural Healthcare Program Director Shelley Stingley.

"Furthermore, given the fact that the Helmsley Charitable Trust focuses a significant amount of its funding on health issues and medical research, it makes sense to support the Association of Health Care Journalists since the organization provides media professionals with the necessary resources and training to provide the public with the relevant information to make knowledgeable health-related decisions."

The Association of Health Care Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing public understanding of health care issues. In just a dozen years, it has grown into the premier organization for training health journalists, boasting more than 1,000 members across the United States and in 27 other nations. Its mission is to improve the quality, accuracy and visibility of health care reporting, writing and editing. The association and center are housed at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, established in 1999, is administered by Trustees selected by Leona Helmsley as a continuation of Mr. and Mrs. Helmsley's generous giving through their lifetimes. The Trust supports a diverse range of organizations with a major focus on health and medical research, in addition to programs in human services, education and conservation. The Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting effective nonprofits. To date the Trust has announced more than $410 million in grants to charitable organizations.