So, EM Types, What is an “Independent” publication?

Today in the email, from the Editor of one of the two big EM trade newspapers:

“Imitation is the highest form of flattery.”

Dear Editorial Board, Advisory Board, Contributors, and Readers:

Since its earliest beginnings Emergency Physicians Monthly has taken pride in the fact that we are the only “independent” publication in EM. EPM was started by a working EP who just wanted an open, educational, relevant forum for the entire specialty, whether the reader was academic or community, corporate or independent, boarded or cross-trained. It would have been nice to have been an “official” publication of the College or the Academy, but it would have required us to take one “party line” or another. So we didn’t. We could have sold to a large publishing house, but then we would have seen the world only through “corporate eyes.” Instead, we stayed “independent.” And since the fall of 2005 we have been proud to make it a part of our banner. Recently we noticed that our other major competitor, Emergency Medicine News, decided to abandon the motto they had used for over 20 years in favor of a new one that proclaimed it to be “Emergency Medicine’s Only Independent News Magazine” . While the claim of independence may be a little bit of a stretch for EMN (they’re owned by Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins, publisher of nearly 300 journals, which is itself owned by Wolters Klewer, an international conglomerate) we are nevertheless flattered by the imitation. I can’t blame EMN for wanting to be perceived as “Independent”. What with all of the corporate scandals and bad press for big business, everyone is rooting for the little guy. As a business, they are entitled to claim whatever they want. But it brings up a good topic of discussion. Independence in journalism is a real thing, not simply a word that you choose in a marketing meeting. One of the defining characteristics of an “independent” publication is that they are invested in the community. An independent bookstore owner that I know is a genuine promoter of local parks, for instance, because he is a local resident and his customers are local residents. He is in the community and he has to live with what he does. Similarly, EPM is 100% concerned with the well-being of emergency medicine. It is all we know, and all we care about.

I think that we need to preserve this concept of “journal independence,” but we may be too close for objectivity. So we are polling readers to find out what they think. How important is it to be truly independent? Who is independent? What does this specialty need from a publication? We’re all ears.

Warm Regards,
Mark Plaster, MD
Emergency Physicians Monthly

(emphasis in original)

By happy coincidence my copies of both arrived a day or two ago, and here are their banners:

You be the Judge

Both are good for EM and EM Docs, and both have treated me remarkably well personally. My interactions with Dr. Plaster and his family-run publication have been very nice, and they seem to be ‘more independent in style and spirit’.

This post brought to you by GruntDoc, the only Independent Emergency Physician Blogger in Fort Worth.


  1. I would have to think too much to answer Mark Plaster’s question but I enjoy both of the magazines. Edwin Leap’s “second opinion” essays in EMN are absolutely some of the funniest sruff I have ever read and keep me going month to month. You should post some of his stuff to your blog.

  2. Since trackback does not work, I will leave it as a comment:
    “GruntDoc Asks: What is an Independent Publication?”