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Resources for journalists: Medical Journalists’ Association

Resources for health and medical journalists

‘We cover issues that really can be life and death, so we feel an enormous responsibility to push back on false claims and conspiracy theories’ – the work of health and medical journalists has perhaps never been more important during our lifetimes. The Medical Journalist’s Association is here to provide support to journalists in the field with access to resources, networking and job opportunities as well as training and career development.

Here, the association shares the big challenges being faced by journalists in its community, how vital the support of this sector is and what plans are being put in place for 2021.   

Do you work in medical or health media? Join the Medical Journalists’ Association quoting RSOFFER on the application form and you won’t need to renew again until February 2022.

What are the main challenges journalists in your community are concerned about at the moment?

The MJA represents more than 400 of the UK’s leading health and medical journalists, and our members work across a wide range of publications and platforms, in both staff and freelance roles — so our community faces diverse challenges.

Across the board, members are being asked to do more, in less time and with fewer resources. The 24/7 news cycle and voracious demand for online content had already seen staff journalists having to deal with rolling deadlines — and the pandemic has added to that pace.

For freelancers, the biggest challenges are a shrinking market for quality journalism and fees which have shrunk, or not increased, for many years.

We cover issues that really can be life and death, so we feel an enormous responsibility to push back on false claims and conspiracy theories.

Why is the work of the MJA so vital, especially in 2020?

We have never had greater need for accurate information on health and medicine, and the MJA provides resources, support and networks to help our members deliver it.

Diagnostics, drug and vaccine development, and the interplay between lifestyle and health are becoming increasingly complex, as are the issues around how to fund and deliver healthcare. Our members play a vital role in communicating these complexities.

Our annual awards celebrate and promote excellence. They encourage editors and publishers to invest in quality journalism and raise the profiles of finalists and winners.

What does the association have coming up/planned for 2021?

The pandemic has forced us all to do things differently, and one of the big benefits of this is that we have become a far less London-centric organisation. We plan to continue and expand our lunch-and-learn webinars and hope to offer more training and career development opportunities.

We know there are tough financial times ahead, so we are looking at ways to improve our sponsorship packages as this income allows us to stage our prestigious awards and fund events and support throughout the year while continuing to hold down the cost of membership.

We hope next year’s awards will see us return to the Barber Surgeons’ Hall for a triple celebration — to cheer the 2020 winners and finalists; find out who has won the 2021 awards; and enjoy getting back to an old normal.

But if things don’t go to plan, we’ll adapt and offer our members the great support, friendships and opportunities that we have for more than 59 years.

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