Friday, October 31, 2014. Last Update: Fri 2:45 PM EST

Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

Oral History

Of spoken and written words

It’s a crazy market, the investors were told by the columnist, and they had to protect themselves. So they shouldn’t... More

One Word or Two?

An altogether random list to use every day

English insists on having variations of words, like “every day/everyday” or “any time/any time,” where two words are scrunched together... More

Really?

Literally speaking

Here’s a cover letter cited in a column about what not to write when applying for a job: “I am... More

The Personals

When to use ‘who’ and ‘that’

“We’re the people that are going to say, ‘No,’ to Washington, D.C., taxing and spending,” U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX),... More

Lone Modifications

Adjectives may agitate

Adjectives play many roles. They can tell us which box on the gift table is being discussed—the “blue” box—so we... More

Irony Patch

It’s not a coincidence

It’s “ironic” that many journalists don’t understand when to correctly use “irony.” Here’s an example of how “irony” frequently appears... More

Quotus Interruptus

‘What … did (he) say?’

For weeks before Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees reached 3,000 career hits, he had been saying he didn’t... More

Almost Famous

Confusion over “infamy” and “notoriety” abounds

You probably don’t want to become “infamous.” but you may want to be “notorious.” The adjective “infamous” has traditionally meant... More

Gonna Wanna

When dialects collide

Writing the way people speak is one way to make sure your copy doesn’t become bloviated or stodgy. But journalists... More

Fraught Fest

Can something be ‘fraught’ without ‘with’?

Kirk Arnott, a retired assistant managing editor of the Columbus Dispatch who keeps his hand sharp with part-time copyediting there,... More

Title Search

Descriptions that deserve respect, or not

We love to modify things, to make them as descriptive or as recognizable as possible. It’s not just a house,... More

Call Me ‘Al’

Another confusing suffix

Is an appliance “electric” or “electrical”? Is Sarah Palin visiting “historic” sites or “historical” sites? Is being “politic” the same... More

Appositive Negatives

Some things are not unique

Last week, we talked about setting a parenthetical description off with commas in the grammatical phenomenon known as an “appositive.”... More

Negative Appositives

Phrases set off by commas

Commas are wonderful tools. They tell a reader to pause, as this one did. They can also tell a reader... More

Name-Calling

Why descriptions are better than labels

Arnold Schwarzenegger had sex with a woman who was not his wife, and that woman gave birth to their child.... More

Out of the Museum

“Curate” gets a new life

Thirty years ago, the only people who were “curators” worked in galleries or museums, deciding what pieces from the presumably... More

Failure to Launch

Adding “ing” makes a noun, or not

When the “launch” of the space shuttle Endeavor finally occurs, many “posts” will appear on blogs and news sites around... More

Hyphen-ation

A little mark can make a big difference

During the recent gathering of the American Copy Editors Society, a lot of “hyphen” jokes made the rounds. One was... More

Important News

Some “most important” notes on adverbs

Writers, rejoice! it’s perfectly acceptable to tell people what’s most important by saying “most importantly….” Many people were taught that... More

Balance Due

A change because of usage

Some grammar battles have been fought for years, and many have been lost. (See “hopefully.”) Here’s another one over the... More

The ethics of The Guardian’s Whisper bombshell - It would have been a journalistic lapse not to have told readers

Gawker: The internet bully - Nick Denton’s media empire is an intellectual online fraternity that invites people to their parties only to make them buy the booze

The Washington Post short-sells a reporter’s integrity - Steven Pearlstein smears TheStreet’s Adam Feuerstein for criticizing a biotech firm

Former Sun-Times staffers react to top reporter’s resignation - “Whereas we don’t have all the answers, we have way too many questions about what happened here”

Stop trolling your readers - We know you’re only doing it for clicks


John Oliver video sweepstakes (The Awl)

“We may update this list next week to reflect Facebook shares gathered by The Awl as the result of this post, which is ultimately an elaborate excuse to embed a John Oliver video on our website”

Which news org is the most trusted? (Pew)

The answer is complicated

‘My Captivity’ (NYT Mag)

An American journalist on his two-year kidnapping in Syria

FBI faked an AP story, in Seattle Times style, to catch a suspect (Seattle Times)

“‘We are outraged that the FBI, with the apparent assistance of the US Attorney’s Office, misappropriated the name of The Seattle Times to secretly install spyware on the computer of a crime suspect,’ said Seattle Times Editor Kathy Best”

Bloggingheads

Greg Marx discusses democracy and news with Tom Rosenstiel of the American Press Institute

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Who Owns What

The Business of Digital Journalism

A report from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Study Guides

Questions and exercises for journalism students.