Nieman News

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Nov. 29, 2005) — Nieman Fellowships in global health reporting have been established at Harvard University as a joint initiative of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism and the Harvard School of Public Health, supported by a three-year, $1.19 million grant to Harvard from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Three Nieman Global Health Fellows — one from the United States, one from Europe and one from the developing world — will be chosen annually, starting with the 2006-2007 academic year. The fellowships will include four months of field work in a developing country at the end of the Nieman year at Harvard. (For more information and applications, go here.)

“The Nieman Foundation appreciates the support of the Gates Foundation in creating these fellowships for journalists who are committed to global health reporting and whose news organizations share that commitment,” said Nieman Curator Bob Giles. “The extent of global health problems is enormous, and the public and policy makers are not sufficiently well informed. Effective reporting on disease and the treatment of disease is a critical part of building broad understanding about illnesses that burden the world’s poorest people. Over time, we expect the work of the Nieman Global Health Fellows to make a difference.”

Joe Cerrell, director of the Global Advocacy program at the Gates Foundation, said, “By joining the journalistic experience of the Nieman Foundation with the expertise of the Harvard School of Public Health, these fellowships will help ensure that committed, well-trained journalists will continue to highlight critical problems and solutions in global health.”

The Nieman Foundation worked closely with the Center for Health Communication of the Harvard School of Public Health in creating a partnership that will enable the global health fellows to pursue a concentrated course of study at the School of Public Health. Fellows will also have access to faculty and courses throughout the university through the Harvard Initiative for Global Health.

“This new initiative underscores the far-reaching influence that well-informed journalists can have in drawing the world’s attention to the challenges of HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB, and other health threats in developing countries,” said Jay A. Winsten, an associate dean at the School of Public Health and the Frank Stanton Director of the School’s Center for Health Communication. “We are grateful to the Gates Foundation for its support.”

During their Nieman year, Nieman Global Health Fellows will participate in weekly activities at the Nieman Foundation in addition to their Harvard courses.

The field-work phase of their fellowship is designed to provide an intensive learning experience about a pressing health issue in a developing country. The fellows will plan their project during the Nieman year with guidance from the Harvard faculty and the Nieman Foundation. At the end of their experience in the field, the fellows will be expected to produce work based on this experience and their academic studies.

“We are interested in identifying projects that can make an impact on the public’s understanding of global health issues,” Giles said. “The results of the field work might be stories, a case study or a handbook of best practices related to reporting on health in a developing country.”

The three Nieman Global Health Fellows will be selected by the Nieman curator, a representative from the School of Public Health and a journalist. Under the terms of the grant, for the next three years the Nieman Foundation will increase the number of U.S. fellows in its overall fellowship program by one for a total of 13. The annual class of international fellows will remain at 12, including the two Global Health Fellows.

The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University administers the nation’s oldest midcareer fellowship program for journalists. Since 1938, more than 1,100 men and women from the United States and 77 other nations have come to Harvard as part of the fellowship program. In addition to the fellowships, the Nieman Foundation publishes Nieman Reports, the nation’s oldest magazine devoted to a critical examination of the practice of journalism. The foundation also is the home of the Nieman Program on Narrative Journalism and the Nieman Watchdog Project, which encourages reporters and editors to monitor and hold accountable those who exert power in all aspects of public life.

The Harvard School of Public Health‘s mission is to advance the public’s health through learning, discovery and communication. The school’s Center for Health Communication has helped pioneer the field of mass communication and public health by researching and analyzing the contributions of mass communication to behavior change and policy, by preparing future health leaders to use communication strategies and by strengthening communication between journalists and health professionals.

Harvard’s Initiative for Global Health was founded in November 2003 to build and strengthen Harvard’s contributions to global health. The university-wide initiative seeks to create a new generation of leaders and develop new and innovative solutions to the vital problems of global health by bridging the gap from basic to applied life sciences, including social, economic, political and ethical issues that influence global health.

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