How Public Health Journalism Is Growing — and Saving Lives

Now in my 38th week of pregnancy, I was researching (on the Google) what a "full-term" pregnancy is, why it's significant, and what my odds are of achieving the coveted full-term status. I'd heard that pregnancies over 37 weeks were full-term, but was that true? Why, then, had I seen March of Dimes commercials cautioning women against going into labor before 39 weeks? That's when I stumbled across a helpful article from the Center for Health Reporting on "term" pregnancy and realized that the center is largely funded through a grant from the California HealthCare Foundation. (Read senior Program Officer Sanjay Shah's IP profile.)

The California HealthCare Foundation, a philanthropic spinoff created when Blue Cross of California went from non-profit to for-profit status in the 1990s, has a $700 million endowment that it devotes to promoting health and wellness in California.

Beginning in 2009, the California HealthCare Foundation has invested in the Center for Health Reporting, a health journalism venture out of the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism. The California HealthCare Foundation renewed its long-term commitment to the Center for Health Reporting with a $3.7 million grant for use over a three-year period.

The Center for Health Reporting holds a niche space in the journalism world. Its mission is to bring together talented writers and editors and established news organizations not only to highlight public health issues but also to find solutions in a state where some 20% of the population lacks any form of health insurance.

The center covers an array of health topics, including suicide prevention, the implications of the Affordable Care Act, and what immigration reform will mean for health coverage of California's immigrant population. The center has received various accolades for its journalistic work, including recent recognition from the Scripps Howard Foundation and the Association of Health Care Journalists.

The California HealthCare Foundation invests about $40 million in its grant programs annually, focusing on four primary areas: chronic diseases, care for the underserved, transparency in California's health-care system, and the implementation of health-care reform and public coverage initiatives. The foundation has its own specific requests for proposals, but it also accepts unsolicited grant ideas on a more limited basis. Organizations interested in funding opportunities can find information on the grant application process here.