The board of the Association of Health Care Journalists has amended the organization’s membership guidelines, completing a process first begun in early 2010. The adjustments are an effort to make membership rules more consistent and ensure AHCJ is first and foremost an organization of and for journalists.
The changes will have no effect on most current members, says board member Phil Galewitz, chair of the Membership Committee. Journalists working for publications of health companies or health advocacy organizations, however, will be shifted into the associate member category, if they are not already there, he said.
While AHCJ has long required that journalists from these organizations’ publications work independently of lobbying and public relations staffers, it has been increasingly difficult to judge their independence based on employer. This will allow them to continue taking advantage of most member benefits, including the electronic discussion list and website resources, but will exclude them from running for board positions or voting for board members.