J298 Reporting on Public Health

This course will provide a basic background for those interested in covering public health and medical issues. It will stress the importance of incorporating a broad social perspective in reporting on stories about health. The course will help students understand the challenges and complexities of the field and will provide tools for developing story ideas and wading through the massive amounts of available information (and disinformation). The class will examine key public health concepts, issues and debates.


Ben Manilla

LecturerContinuing Lecturer, Director of Audio

I have spent my adult life telling stories in sound. It's something I continue to be passionate about. I truly enjoy sharing that passionate and exposing students to the fun and possibilities of audio journalism.
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Chris Ballard


Chris Ballard is a senior writer at Sports Illustrated and the author of four books, most recently "One Shot at Forever".
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Elena Conis

Permanent Faculty

Marilyn Chase

LecturerContinuing Lecturer


The J-School provides multiple opportunities for students interested in reporting on health and medical issues. The School maintains strong links with UC Berkeley's School of Public Health, and the two schools offer a dual-master’s degree in public health and journalism (MPH/MJ); this unique three-year program allows students to obtain professional training in both fields concurrently. Other journalism students seeking to focus on health coverage are strongly encouraged to enroll in courses offered by the School of Public Health, especially those addressing such critical topics as epidemiology, environmental health, infectious diseases, and healthcare reform.

The J-School curriculum allows students to specialize in health reporting from their first semester and develop the fundamental understanding of healthcare and medical issues that is essential to effective reporting. The coursework seeks to take full advantage of the Bay Area's role as a world center for medical and healthcare research and technological innovation.

In their first semester, all students take J200, in which they master the fundamentals of how to propose, report, interview, write and create a range of news and feature stories, using text, photos, audio and video. Students with an interest in health and medical reporting can pursue a health-related beat as part of their J200 training. Stories produced in class can be submitted to our affiliated news websites Oakland North and Richmond Confidential, as well to other media outlets.

In the second, third and fourth semesters, students focus on longer and more complex health-related stories on a variety of media platforms. In the spring semester, they can take “Reporting on Public Health and Medicine,” a course that builds and expands on what they learned in J200; they can also specialize in health and medical issues through summer internships with local and national media organizations. Second-year students intending to produce a master’s project related to health policy can apply for one of two fellowships sponsored annually by Kaiser Permanente's Institute for Health Policy.


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December 1st at 8:59 pm PST
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