Online Community Building and Health

A Fellowship for Bloggers and Online News Editors

In 2011, Renaissance Journalism partnered with USC Annenberg’s California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship to launch the Online Community Building and Health Fellowship. This collaborative project educated bloggers and online news editors on critical community health issues, as well as on social media strategies to build audience and promote community engagement.

The fellows for the Online Community Building and Health Fellowship:

Each fellow received $2,000 to support the completion of an ambitious community health news or storytelling project. Additionally, the fellows attended two in-depth seminars in Los Angeles. At the seminars, they learned about storytelling approaches and tools for chronicling the life and health of their communities; new strategies for building and engaging diverse audiences; and proven approaches for involving community contributors. The fellows also learned how to use census and other data to write authoritatively about the unique populations in their communities.

Throughout the fellowship term, the participants received individualized coaching and technical assistance to help them to improve their reporting and storytelling; to build audience and promote engagement using social media for information-gathering, crowdsourcing and stimulating community conversations; and to enhance their projects with data analysis, data visualizations and mapping. Serving as mentors/senior fellows were:

  • Staci Baird: Internet and Social Media Strategist, Stanford University, School of Engineering
  • Frank Bass: Data Editor, Bloomberg News
  • Sean Connelley: Design Technologist, Stamen Design
  • Susan Mernit: Founder of Oakland Local,  Consultant and Trainer
  • Martha Shirk: Author, Editor and Consultant, California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships
  • Mark Taylor: Freelance Healthcare Journalist