USC Annenberg and CHCF Join in New Health Care Journalism Venture

$3.28 million grant to support in-depth, explanatory reporting

Funded by a three-year grant, the CHCF Center for Health Reporting at the Annenberg School for Communication will join journalists in traditional and emerging media to report on health care issues.

September 17, 2009

At a time of uncertainty and transition in the news media, the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication announced today a unique partnership with the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) to undertake in-depth reporting on health policy issues throughout the state.

Funded by a three-year $3,285,000 grant, the California HealthCare Foundation Center for Health Reporting at the Annenberg School for Communication will team up with journalists of both traditional and emerging media to report on the most vexing health care issues facing the state: quality, access, and cost.

"We are pleased and excited to launch such a critical venture with the California HealthCare Foundation," said USC Annenberg Dean Ernest J. Wilson III. "In an era when traditional media are facing shrinking resources to cover the important issues of our society, we are fulfilling one of the school's critical tenets: to be of service to all people. There is no better time, and no better topic."

Throughout its 12-year history, CHCF has shown a strong commitment to supporting and producing nonpartisan research and analysis to support evidence-based decision-making in government and the private sector.

"At this very turbulent time in the evolution of California's media, it is important to support thoughtful explanatory reporting on these crucial health care issues," said Mark D. Smith, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Oakland-based California HealthCare Foundation.

Leading the Center will be USC Professor Michael Parks, the Pulitzer Prize-winning former Los Angeles Times editor, who recently completed a seven-year term as director of the journalism school at USC Annenberg.

Parks will chair the Center's board of advisors and lead the Center's development. A nationwide search is under way for an editor-in-chief and a staff of journalists. The staff will be based primarily in Los Angeles, in addition to one Sacramento-based reporter who will cover health policy-related issues.

"We are eager to dig into the health care issues that most affect Californians and provide the facts and information they need to make sense of the debate over reform of health care," Parks said.

"Through our partnerships with California newspapers and broadcasters, and with the staff we will recruit under this grant, I believe the center will provide much-needed impartial information on the difficult issues in health care, but will also be able to analyze proposed solutions to these problems objectively. And our work will be rooted into the communities affected by these issues, so people will understand the stakes in terms of their lives and the health of their families."

Last year, Parks led a six-month pilot of the Center concept and completed five series of reports with the Merced Sun-Star, The Fresno Bee, The Santa Cruz Sentinel, The Redding Searchlight, and The North County Times.

"This is a potent and trailblazing model," said Mike Tharp, executive editor of the Merced Sun-Star. "The Center's resources, in the form of partnership with an editor, reporter, and photographer, let us produce a series that I nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. The series still resonates around our community."

About the USC Annenberg School for Communication

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 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. For more information about employment opportunities, visit jobs.usc.edu.

About the California HealthCare Foundation

The California HealthCare Foundation works as a catalyst to fulfill the promise of better health care for all Californians. We support ideas and innovations that improve quality, increase efficiency, and lower the costs of care.

Contact Information

CHCF Communications Officer
California HealthCare Foundation