About AHCJ: General News

Midwest fellows program graduates first class Date: 05/04/08

Fellow reflects on the year

The 2007-08 graduating fellows included:

  • Joy Robertson Fountain, News Anchor/Reporter, KOLR-Springfield

  • Betsy Lee-Frye, Health & Medical Reporter, St. Joseph News-Press

  • Teresa Snow, News Anchor/Medical Reporter, KRCG-Jefferson City

  • Chris King, Editorial Director, The St. Louis American

  • Karen Shideler, Health & Fitness Reporter, The Wichita Eagle

  • Bryan Thompson, Health Reporter, Kansas Public Radio, Salina

  • Dave Ranney, Senior Writer/Editor, KHI News Service, Topeka

  • Kelley Weiss, Health Reporter, KCUR (NPR), Kansas City

  • Rob Roberts, Health Care Reporter, Kansas City Business Journal

  • Julius Karash, Health Reporter, The Kansas City Star

More about the Midwest Health Journalism Program

The Midwest Health Journalism Program completed its first year with the graduation in May of its inaugural class of fellows. The fellowship program was launched in 2007 through funding by a consortium of six Missouri and Kansas health foundations.

The program is a cooperative effort of AHCJ, the Kansas Health Institute and the University of Kansas School of Journalism. Its aim is to provide established journalists with the tools needed to improve the depth and amount of coverage focused on critical state and local health issues. Each annual fellowship class meets several times throughout the year for personalized training. The fellows use a private electronic discussion group to share story regional ideas and resources, and they are offered mentors experienced in health reporting specialties to help them with a variety of stories and projects.

Kansas City Star reporter Julius Karash called the program "a knowledge infusion and a battery recharge."

"Health care is one of the most complex beats at any news organization today, and one of the most important," Karash says. "Perhaps the most important. Even in an age of apathy and disconnect, most people care about it deeply."

"That's why it's up to us health-care journalists to keep learning. By that I mean learning about the topic itself, learning about new sources of information and learning about new ways to impart that information. And when this process occurs with other journalists who share your beat and your ideals, the learning curve shoots way up."

Selection of Kansas and Missouri journalists for a second class of fellows is currently under way. Read more about the program at healthjournalism.org/midwestprogram.

The funding group for the program includes The Kansas Health Foundation, Wichita, Kan.; The Sunflower Foundation, Topeka, Kan.; The United Methodist Health Ministry Fund, Hutchinson, Kan.; the REACH Healthcare Foundation, Merriam, Kan.; the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, Kansas City, Mo.; and the Missouri Foundation for Health, St. Louis.