Intended for healthcare professionals


How political should a general medical journal be?

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 21 December 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:1431

There's no easy way to decide

  1. Tony Delamothe
  1. BMJ

    The first anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon passed without a word from the BMJ. We decided to mark the anniversary not by a minute's silence but by a whole issue's, judging we could add nothing of value to the tower of words that had already been erected in the victims' memory. In the week after the attacks, we restricted our coverage to two first person accounts written by people who had been in New York and Washington at the time. By contrast, the Lancet devoted nine articles to the attacks in its issue of 22 September 2001, with another 13 marking the first anniversary. Some of these articles contained very little medicine. So has the Lancet overdone it, confusing its role with that of a political weekly, or have we underdone it, neglecting the huge implications of the attacks?

    Just how political should a general medical journal be? We define the BMJ's scope as covering the “clinical, scientific, social, political, and economic factors affecting health.”1 This means that our content ranges over such …

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