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Resources: Email Discussion List

AHCJ email discussion list guidelines

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To join the list, visit the administration page. To post a message to all list members, send an e-mail message to

The AHCJ email discussion list is intended to help journalists who cover health and health care issues do their jobs better by tapping into the experience and expertise of the association's membership.

It should function as a cyber community, where ideas can flow and people can get support, how-to information and encouragement from other journalists. AHCJ encourages open and vigorous debate on our email discussion list, while at the same time recognizing that many unmoderated lists already exist and that our members want to avoid information overload and therefore demand that postings be pertinent and free from personal rancor. We seek to shed light, not merely generate heat.

At the same time, legal issues, such as defamation and libel, are very real and could put AHCJ at risk for lawsuits. Messages can easily clog members' inboxes and render the list less useful, and this has caused many list members to complain or unsubscribe.

In the interest of keeping all job postings in one place, and the need to review the source of all advertising, we do not post job ads, including requests for freelance writers, on the list. Such requests should be directed to the AHCJ office as outlined here

To keep the list useful for members and mitigate legal risks, the AHCJ board adopted a policy to moderate its list since its inception in 1999. This helps block unwanted spam and press releases from being sent to members. If left to its own devices, the list would automatically block messages from unrecognized e-mail addresses. As such, members benefit from having a human moderator compare what seem to be legitimate messages with AHCJ's membership list and then override the list software to post them.

As such, moderators may:

• Reject postings that appear to contain statements that appear to be defamatory or libelous in nature.

• Ask the original author to rewrite or edit the message when the moderator judges it to be a personal attack or otherwise offensive.

• Reject postings not pertinent to journalism topics or covering health care (i.e. jokes, job ads, etc.)

Moderators may also:

• Reject redundant postings in the interest of keeping list traffic manageable

• Ask the poster to trim old material to keep list messages short. In particular, keeping an entire digest at the end of a post makes it impossible to read future digests.

• Ask the poster to re-send the message with identifying information, such as name and affiliation.

• Forward a message directly to the original author if the message does not appear to contain information of benefit to all subscribers.

Other things to consider when posting include:

  1. Consider checking the list archives in case we've already had a recent discussion of that issue. You find the answer to your query faster that way and eliminate unnecessary list traffic. You'll need to know your login and password for the AHCJ Web site. If you need help with your password, send an e-mail to

  2. Replying to a message sends it to the moderator for consideration to post to the entire list; to send a message ONLY to the original sender, enter that person's email address in the TO: line. Unless your message contains information that might be useful to the entire list, we strongly urge you to consider sending responses to the original sender only.

  3. Discussion list messages are private and are not to be shared with anyone outside of AHCJ membership. We offer this discussion list as a forum for our members who should be able to help one another and speak freely without worry their words will show up elsewhere attributed to them, or not attributed to them. That means no passing along messages without asking the permission of the sender and no publishing of excerpts, anonymous or not. (Also remember that your competitors may be on the list.)

  4. Avoid posting such messages as "Way to go!'' or messages of thanks to the whole list. Instead, please send such messages only to the person you're addressing.

  5. When initiating a new topic, please use a good descriptor in the subject line to help subscribers determine if they want to read a message. When replying to a message, please use the same descriptor in the subject line.

  6. In the interest of keeping viruses from spreading and not clogging recipients' inboxes, attachments are not allowed.

  7. These guidelines are subject to discussion and change. If you have thoughts about how to improve them, please send a message to

To join the list, visit this page. To post a message to all list members, send an e-mail message to