With the rapid migration of news and information from print and broadcast media to the Internet, traditional media outlets are struggling to keep up. Advertising revenues are falling and new revenue streams from the digital world have not made up the difference. Thus, many media outlets have been forced to cut back, losing the resources to produce explanatory stories of high value to readers.
Cuts have been particularly severe among experienced reporters with specialties like health care. This is happening at a time when the need for cogent reporting and analysis on health care issues has never been greater, with the aging of the baby boomers, the critical condition of our health care system, and the inability of politicians to agree on policy solutions.
In 2009, CHCF established the CHCF Center for Health Reporting with a three-year, $3,285,000 grant.
In keeping with the foundation's commitment to supporting unbiased, dispassionate, accurate news and information on California's health care system, the center operates as an independent news organization with no agenda but journalistic excellence. The center creates partnerships with traditional and emerging media of all types across California to report on the most vexing health care issues facing the state: quality, access, and cost.
The center is based at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, a leading institution devoted to journalism and communication, and their impact on politics, culture, and society.
The center's founder and director, USC professor Michael Parks, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning former editor of the Los Angeles Times. David Westphal, the center's editor-in-chief, has nearly four decades of experience as a newspaper reporter and editor.
The mission of the Center for Health Reporting is to not only spotlight health care and health policy issues, but also examine and explain possible solutions. The center's in-depth health care reporting has influenced social action and promoted policy change. Examples of this impact include:
- A series in the Santa Cruz Sentinel focused on the local exodus of primary care doctors and its effects on Medicare patients and other vulnerable populations. After the series, a committee appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sponsored legislation boosting Medicare reimbursements in localities like Santa Cruz.
- A groundbreaking series in the Redding Record Searchlight demonstrated how the way fires are fought in the surrounding mountains affects the health of local residents. After publication of the series, the forest service changed its policy priorities to include "human health."
- A two-part series in the Merced Sun-Star provided one of the first in-depth portrayals of the mental health effects of the California foreclosure crisis. Following the series, Merced US Congressman Dennis Cardoza introduced legislation requiring the provision of financial counseling to homeowners in regions hardest hit by the crisis.
See the right column on this page for recent reports from the center, or visit the Center for Health Reporting.