Rocha Selected as Center for Health Journalism 2022 National Fellow 


The USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism announced this month it had selected 26 journalists to participate in its 2022 National Fellowship to investigate and explore challenges impacting child, youth and family health and well-being in the United States. Annabel Rocha, Editor for Latino News Network – Midwest and Writer for Illinois Latino News (ILLN) is among them.

The competitive program includes a five-day training that provides insights into how health and child, youth and family well-being is shaped by community conditions, systemic racism and opportunity. Through reporting stipends and months of expert mentoring, the Center for Health Journalism supports Fellows as they produce investigative and explanatory projects on challenges impacting child, youth and family wellness. 

For her project, Rocha will be exploring Period Poverty. Period Poverty or Menstrual Poverty is defined as the lack of access to menstrual products, education, hygiene facilities, and/or waste management. This social problem primarily affects houseless people, low-income people, and Black and Brown communities.  Two-thirds of low-income women in the U.S.could not afford period products, according to a 209 survey of low-income women in a large U.S. city.

“I thank the CHJ and ILLN for supporting my vision on this project because I know discussions like this can make people uncomfortable,” said Rocha. “That’s exactly why this topic needs to be covered.”

“As the Center’s director, I’m proud to welcome this group of reporters to Los Angeles and look forward to partnering with them in the months to come as they produce powerful stories on health equity and systemic disparities, reporting that will have an impact in their communities,” said Michelle Levander, editor and founding director, Center for Health Journalism.

“In an era of pervasive misinformation, trusted reporters rooted in the communities they cover and laser-focused on telling stories about health inequities are more critical than ever,” said Monica Beltran, program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “We need a strong ecosystem of journalists who represent the communities they report on to uncover health disparities, explore why they exist and shed light on solutions,” she added.

The 2022 National Fellowship is generously funded by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The National Fellowship also receives support from The California Endowment and the Internet Brands/WebMD Impact Fund, an initiative of the Social Impact Fund.

A native Chicagoan, Rocha joined Illinois Latino News as its first writer/reporter when it launched last October. She was named Editor last month. Rocha has helped lead the Democracy SOS and Advancing Democracy, solutions journalism initiatives for LNN, thanks to grants by the Solutions Journalism Network and Hearken.

“Grants like the Center for Health Journalism, provides dedicated journalists like Annabel, and independent newsrooms like LNN, the resources necessary to produce authentic stories that resonate with communities often invisible in the coverage of mainstream media,” said Hugo Balta, Owner and Publisher of LNN.

“I am so happy to have this opportunity, not only for myself and my career, but for the stories that will be told through this reporting,” said Rocha of being included as a CHJ Fellow. “People of color are most directly impacted by period poverty but their voices are heard the least. The goal is to reclaim the narrative and uplift Latinx voices as we normalize menstruation and menstrual poverty together.”

Publisher’s Notes: This story is in part an aggregate from Center for Health Journalism announces 2022 National Fellows.

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