A new editor-in-chief feels the responsibility of a 111-year legacy.
AJN Editor-in-Chief, E-mail: email@example.com
If you've been reading AJN over the last 18 months, you're accustomed to seeing my editorials. You probably don't glance at the top of the page where names and titles are listed, unless it's a guest editorial. And if you look now, I bet you won't realize what's changed, so I'll tell you: the words "editorial director and interim" have been deleted from my title. On January 1, I was officially named editor-in-chief (see Letter from the Publisher).
So what does this mean? Will my job change drastically? No. Will I get a snazzy new office? No. Will you see changes in AJN? Yes, a few, as we seek to freshen our look and add columns and contributors as new areas of interest emerge. (And who knows what Web 3.0 will bring . . .)
What changes for me is that I feel a renewed appreciation for the journal's history and legacy, and a heightened sense of responsibility for its stewardship. I'm no longer just minding the store; now I'm the store manager. It's a bit daunting, and it's not a role I ever imagined, as a young nurse, that I'd one day have. But I'm honored to have it. The editorial staff and supporting editorial consultants and freelancers are stellar; there are none better. Having them on board, having a publisher who "gets" what AJN is about, having a team committed to supporting this journal's mission and goals—these were instrumental in my decision to accept the position.
The publishing industry is in a time of transformation. The Internet has changed the way we learn, do business, get information, and interact socially. AJN has been delivered, as a monthly print publication, to nurses' mailboxes since 1900. Since then, the journal has gone through many changes in design and in editors, publishers, owners, and alliances. AJN is still delivered in print to mailboxes, but now it's also published online and can be read on a desktop, laptop, or mobile device (yes, we have an "app" for that!). And through Ovid's institutional database, the journal is available to universities and libraries worldwide. We also offer an e-newsletter and make full use of social media. In short, we can deliver accurate, evidence-based content pretty much whenever, however, and wherever our readers want it.
I've spoken recently with former AJN editors Mary Mallison and Thelma Schorr, as well as with Diana Mason, my immediate predecessor, now editor-in-chief emeritus and the coordinating editor of our Policy and Politics column (her forte). These wise women have been generous with their time and counsel; their editorials have always inspired me. Mallison's "How Can You Bear to Be a Nurse?" (April 1987) is timeless in capturing what nurses do. Schorr's elegant phrasing and Mason's insightful analyses demonstrate their passion and advocacy for nursing.
And while I never met Barbara Schutt, AJN's editor during the 1960s, I admired her greatly: her editorials are full of wry humor and sharp intelligence. Her parting editorial (April 1971) resonates with me now, though I've only been writing editorials for 18 months: "These responses, these relationships, this remarkable opportunity to have my say each month about a profession I love to persons I love, add up to a privilege few other nurses can parallel. There are some things I wish I hadn't said. But there are some I would say over and over again, some I wish I had said more forcefully, and many I failed to say."
I'm committed to continuing the legacy of AJN as "the leading voice of nursing since 1900" and to our mission "to promote excellence in nursing and health care through the dissemination of evidence-based, peer-reviewed clinical information and original research, discussion of relevant and controversial professional issues, adherence to the standards of journalistic integrity and excellence, and promotion of nursing perspectives to the health care community and the public."
I feel like I've been handed a family heirloom, passed on to me to look after for the next generation. Indeed, my predecessors left me a jewel.