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Getting Nursing News (Whether You Like It Or Not)

June 10, 2011

By Gail M. Pfeifer, AJN news director

During a recent public radio interview between Anita Dunn, a Democratic strategist and former senior advisor to President Obama, and Republican strategist Frank Luntz (author of Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear), Dunn remarked that folks “increasingly seek people they already agree with to get their news from.” (Here’s the show’s transcript.)

That is a sad commentary on the state of news journalism today. By definition, a journalist’s report should be fair and unbiased. And news reporting, above all, should be held to that high standard.

If you read AJN’s news department regularly (here’s the current issue’s table of contents; scroll down to find links to the new articles), and we hope you do, we should tell you how we try to maintain such standards.

To decide what will be included as news in the upcoming month’s issue and in the monthly e-newsletter, we hold a team meeting each month. The editorial team scours many wire services, newspapers, journals, and nursing organization sites to find worthy topics, and our stellar group of regular and experienced news writers contributes ideas as well. Then we winnow the final list according to the topics’ usefulness to general practice nurses—keeping in mind the balance of clinical content, policy, public health news, and so on; whether we covered it recently or if there’s updated information; and whether the published information is from a high-quality, peer-reviewed journal.

For the lead news articles in particular, we interview expert nurses who can comment on a study’s applicability to nursing practice. In our News Alerts box on the AJN home page, we often try to draw attention to international nursing news in this venue, because we have a global audience that regularly visits the site.

AJN has a number of news venues: I’m responsible for In The News, which covers about five pages in every print issue (and is free online), a short e-newsletter available by free subscription via e-mail, and the news alerts that are updated weekly on the AJN Web site. In addition, an AJN senior editor runs and edits this blog, Off the Charts (there’s a subscribe option in the right-hand sidebar), which provides several new posts weekly that give an up-to-date, first-person angle on current events and on other issues relevant to nurses, as well as a place for readers to comment. (And for the real news junkies, there’s also the AJN Twitter stream, where AJN editor-in-chief Shawn Kennedy and other AJN editors draw attention to articles and news of the day that seem worth sharing.)

We do want to hear what content you think is important, how we can better address what you think you need to know as a nursing professional, as well as your ideas for more in-depth coverage of news topics. And we appreciate your constructive critiques on whatever we write about.

We were proud to be recognized recently for editorial excellence with a silver award from the American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors for AJN’s In The News department (as well as awards for our blog and various feature articles). We hope you don’t read our news because you expect a point of view you already agree with; we hope you read it to stay abreast of what’s happening in nursing and how that may affect you, your colleagues, and your profession. Whatever your opinions about things like medical marijuana, the Affordable Care Act, a controversial treatment or vaccination, the latest findings on the effects of the use of pacifiers on breastfeeding, and restrictions to collective bargaining (among other topics), if it’s making news, well bring it to you in the most balanced and clear way we can.

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