Sorry to disappoint you but actually we do, maybe not a whole lot but we do need a little bit. What we don’t need however is “thought control”.
These are an important educational aspect to most microbiology departments, regardless of what discipline you are in. If you think your department is too small to have one, then think again. It may just be a matter of having it less frequently so that nobody becomes overburdened. I would advise scheduling your journal club with a frequency that gets everybody doing a talk 2-3 times per year.
A lot of articles I have heard presented in journal clubs feature topics that are so rare and isoteric, that the chances of coming across something similar (or again) in everyday practice is remote. Try to avoid talks like these. I personally don’t find them very interesting. Instead, concentrate on recent articles/experiences that are likely to impact or potentially on your current laboratory practice. Examples can include not so common (but not rare) organisms, new methodologies, new equipment etc etc.
I would advise against reading word for word from the text. This usually sends me to my I-phone to check my emails. Instead, summarise the paper in your own words, or on a few powerpoint slides.
The most important thing about any journal club (or any formal educational class for that matter) is to turn up. The second most important thing is to get involved. If you are not presenting, get involved by asking questions, giving your own opinion etc etc. Don’t be shy, it’s only the people that you work and chat with on a daily basis. Personally I favour a wrong opinion as opposed to no opinion at all…
Lastly, from time to time, get a guest speaker along to speak at your journal club. This does not have to be a world famous expert on the subject, just someone who has a different perspective on the topic you are studying eg someone from Public Health, a clinician, a nurse, someone from a reference lab. etc. etc.