top of page
Brian Rinker Writer Journalist Storyteller

Brian Rinker

Writer. Journalist. Storyteller.


Location: San Francisco



Welcome! I’m Brian Rinker, a versatile freelance writer with over a decade of journalism experience. 


I specialize in health care and health policy, mental health and drug addiction, child welfare and juvenile justice and startups and innovation.


As one of the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism's 2023 California Health Equity Fellows, I am reporting on California's closure of its state-run youth prisons for Youth Today, an independent news organization.


At the University of California, Berkeley, I honed my journalism craft and deepened my subject matter expertise in public health while earning a master’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in public health. For my public health research project, I developed a grant proposal for an ethnographic study to examine the medicalization of residential drug treatment; and my reporting project on the lack of opioid treatment options in a rural region in California was co-published by Kaiser Health News and STAT. 


I am most passionate about producing compelling, deeply reported and people-centered stories that shed light on complex issues at the intersections of health policy and mental health and drug addiction. In order to explore how public health policies geared toward distributing opioid overdose reversal medication impacted those at high-risk, I spent days photographing and reporting San Franciscans who smoked and injected fentanyl on the city's downtown streets. The article — co-published by The Atlantic and Kaiser Health News — trended as a top story on Apple News. 


To bring to life the consequences of an arbitrary state rule that denied foster youth special housing and financial benefits if they happened to turn 18 while incarcerated, I demonstrated the implications by following the very different paths of two brothers in foster care. The article inspired a California state senator to propose a bill to change the law.


I earned my daily reporting chops as a startup and innovation beat reporter at the San Francisco Business Times, juggling multiple stories a day online with in-depth news features, profiles and awards sections for the weekly print edition. During this time, I gained an appreciation for digital health, entrepreneurship and startups, eventually leaving to become a solopreneur. 


Today, I focus my time on the journalism I'm passionate about and harness my years of experience to help digital health startups, nonprofits and organizations write, edit and strategize fact-based content — profiles, blog posts, white papers and thought leadership articles.


Freelance Writer & Journalist

2021 - Present


  • Reporter at Youth Today covering out-of-school time, education, child welfare and juvenile justice. 

  • Journalism

    • Reporting on health care and mental health for Health Affairs.

    • Write about healthcare startups innovating in Medi-Cal for California Health Care Foundation.

    • Reported on efforts to expand peers support workers to help power the mental health workforce.

    • Wrote about the rise in digital health addiction startups for Kaiser Health News.

    • Reported on startups and equity crowdfunding for Business Insider.

  • Writer

    • Wrote about venture capital research for Stanford Graduate School of Business.

    • Detailed the challenges of long Covid in the 2022 annual report for the Stanford Department of Medicine.

    • Develop C-level thought-leadership bylines, white papers and other fact-based content for digital health and biotech clients.

    • Content strategy to create scalable narratives for startups.

San Francisco Business Times

Startup & Innovation Reporter

2019 - 2021

  • Wrote daily stories about Bay Area entrepreneurs and technology startups.

  • Interviewed CEOs, executives, founders and venture capitalists.


Health Writer/Editorial Director

2017 - 2020

  • Wrote, edited and managed hundreds of health articles and photos.

  • Spearheaded content efforts to digitize UC Berkeley's health content library.

Journalist at Large

2011 - 2019

  • For eight years, worked through undergraduate and graduate schools as a freelance community reporter in San Francisco, with bylines in SF Weekly, KQED, Mission Local, Bay Guardian, Central City Extra and Potrero View. 

  • 2018-2020 A regular contributor to Kaiser Health News and Health Affairs. 

City College of San Francisco
Journalism Part-Time Faculty

2018 - 2019

  • Taught news writing and reporting, online journalism.


USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism
2023 California Health Equity Fellowship

Reporting on California's haphazard closure of its youth prisons for Youth Today.

Arizona Republic
Storytelling Reporter

Best reads 2015: What happened when the anarchists moved in

The Chronicle of Social Change
Child Welfare Reporter

State Senator proposed new law in response to Three brothers; three paths out of foster care


Prison University Project
Journalism Instructor 

Co-taught an introductory journalism course to people incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison.


University of California, Berkeley

Master’s in Journalism 
Master’s in Public Health 

2014 - 2017

• Graduate student instructor: Community Health and Human
Development; Drugs and the Brain; Journalism for Social Change
• Kaiser Permanente Journalism Fellow
• Global Health Reporting Fellowship
• Robert Whittington Award for Exceptional Reporting

San Francisco State University
Bachelor of Arts, Journalism (Criminal Justice minor)

• Golden Gate Xpress: Metro reporter; Columnist
• San Francisco Peninsula Press Club Herb Caen Scholarship

Skills & Expertise

  • Photography

  • Audio

  • Video

  • Smartphone reporting and storytelling

  • Social Media (engagement, research

  • and sourcing on Facebook, Twitter,

  • Instagram)

  • AP Style

  • Proficient: Microsoft Office and Adobe

  • Creative Suite (Photoshop, Premiere,

  • Audition, InDesign), Content Management Systems (i.e. WordPress)

  • Knowledgeable: HTML, CSS, MySQL

  • Excellent digital reporting skills, with knowledge of health websites and databases to generate story ideas and gather news

  • Data gathering and visualiza tion skills: mapped hundreds of odor complaints in the Bay Area

  • Good news judgment

  • Large source network

  • Excellent organizational and planning skills, attention to detail

  • Excellent writing skills and strong presentation skills

bottom of page