Mizzou journalism group helps launch National Science-Health-Environment Reporting Fellowships

Science Health Environment

Columbia, Mo. (Feb. 25, 2021) — The Association of Health Care Journalists, based at the Missouri School of Journalism, is partnering with two other major journalism organizations to unveil the National Science-Health-Environment Reporting Fellowships.

The program, which kicks off this summer, is a first-ever collaboration of AHCJ, the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW) and the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ). The year-long fellowships are being created for early-career journalists interested in covering any or all of the three fields. They are designed to provide training, networking, mentoring, new sources and story ideas, while allowing them to stay at their jobs.

Aware that today’s fast-changing media economy makes it harder than ever to build a career as a specialized journalist, the three organizations seek to enable journalists to do rigorous reporting on complex topics and pursue a wide variety of job opportunities and stories. The project also aims to increase equity and diversity in these areas of journalism.

The pilot project, funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Department of Science Education and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, will provide 12 fellowships. The program is particularly aimed at staff and freelance journalists with between two and 10 years of professional reporting experience.

“Our society is awash in misinformation and misconceptions about science and the process of science,” said Sean B. Carroll, vice president for science education at HHMI. “By supporting talented storytellers of diverse backgrounds, these new fellowships promise to strengthen fact-based journalism in communities across the United States.”

Holly Potter, chief communications officer at the Moore Foundation, added: “These boundary-spanning fellowships will support journalists covering some of the most critical issues of our time—conservation, health, and science. The cross-cutting nature of their training reflects the reality of our interdependent world, and will offer an unprecedented opportunity for them to report with the same level of rigor across subject boundaries.”

Over the course of a year set to start in July 2021, selected fellows will participate in workshops, a reporting boot camp on the Mizzou campus, multi-day field trips and webinars, with the details and timing of any in-person activities adjusted when necessary in response to health guidelines. Fellows will be supported in attending any of the partner organization’s annual conferences and participating in additional networking, professional development and access to resources. The fellows will be linked by an online networking platform and matched with professional mentors. Independent journalists will be eligible for project support stipends.

“We are excited to undertake this new collaboration with CASW and SEJ to help in the career development of young journalists interested in specialty journalism,” said Missouri assistant professor Andrew Smiley, new executive director of AHCJ. “The importance of such opportunities in science, health and environmental reporting is evidenced by the backing of two such respected funders.”

The fellowships were modeled on AHCJ’s Regional Reporting Fellowship Program, created by Professor Emeritus Len Bruzzese when he served as AHCJ’s executive director until last fall. That program graduated 117 reporters over a decade and brought dozens of leading health and health journalism experts to campus. The activities of the new fellowship will be coordinated by AHCJ staff working in collaboration with CASW and SEJ. The reporting boot camp will take place on the University of Missouri campus, allowing for interaction with journalism students interested in the specialty topics.

About AHCJ

The Association of Health Care Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing public understanding of health care issues. In 22 years, it has grown into the premier organization for training health journalists, boasting nearly 1,500 members across the United States and in several other nations. Its mission is to improve the quality, accuracy and visibility of health care reporting, writing and editing. AHCJ, which is based at the Missouri School of Journalism, conducts training through its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism.

Updated: February 25, 2021

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