Thursday, September 18, 2014. Last Update: Thu 3:07 PM EST

Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

Mentee Fresh

Some notes on “protégés,” “mentors,” and manatees

When you have a “mentor,” what are you (aside from in need of advice)? Before the sixties, you probably would... More

Rotary Club

Old phone terms hang on

Some words outlast the things they were coined to accompany, simply because there’s no good alternative. When you write an... More

Indescribable

‘Nondescript’ says more than ‘plain’

Bob Kamman of Arizona writes: “Am I the only one who has noticed the increasing use of the adjective ‘nondescript,’... More

Snow Job

Just what constitutes a “record”?

The snowstorm that hit much of the United States last week was one for the books. In Chicago, the 20.2... More

Overnight Sensation

A wordier term for dusk to dawn

The weather outside was frightful, and so was the advisory from the National Weather Service. Not known for their literary... More

The Fast Lain

Figuring out ‘lay’ and ‘lie’

It’s no “lie”: Many people get “lay” and “lie” wrong a lot. So let’s “lay” down the rules. The best... More

The Frugal Writer

Why use several words when one will do?

At some points in time, people engaged in the profession of journalism tend to learn to acquire the negatively associative... More

Duty Double

When nouns and verbs collide

Headlines are supposed to grab a reader’s attention and provide a fast synopsis of an article for a busy reader.... More

Whoa, Nelly!

On “reigning in” misspellings and misusage

"New Auditor Will Take Reigns in 2011" was the headline. Another article about money said that the "government refuses to... More

Two-Faced

Beginning January with Janus words

Welcome to January, the two-faced month. On the one hand, it’s the start of the new year, a time to... More

Just One of Those Things

Choosing between singular and plural

Be the hit of your holiday party! Amaze your friends! Impress your family! Be one of those people who uses... More

Spellbound

Different spellings, different words

Much has been written about the dangers of using spelling checkers without brain in gear. Spelling checkers won’t tell you... More

Grainy Picture

‘Granularity’ and other business jargon

For a number of years, some attendees of jargon-heavy business meetings have played “Buzzword Bingo”: Someone prints out cards with... More

A Matter of Taste

On “gourmet,” “gourmand,” and loving food

When a word takes on unwanted connotations, people seeking a replacement often settle on something close, thinking, perhaps, that the... More

Never the More

Replacing a word in a quotation can lead to trouble

What happens when a public official misspeaks? Should a news outlet edit the quotation, paraphrase it, or just leave it... More

Degrees of Rejection

‘Refudiate’ may have a use after all

The “words of the year” lists are beginning to appear, and we’re generally going to ignore them, since those words... More

Passing the Blame

A “scapegoat” by any other name …

Antonio Pierce, on ESPN, was talking about how the Washington Redskins seemed to be blaming their quarterback for a lot... More

Stock Answers

A stylebook takes on financial terms

If you’ve been reading too much “financial porn,” you might be tempted by the “skirt-length theory” and try to “buy... More

Leading Questions

How some journalism terms were born

The Associated Press recently said it would stop using some wire-service jargon as instructions on its stories. Among them were... More

Boo!

Scary words

Halloween is next week, and thousands of people are “scarifying” their houses in anticipation of the hordes of trick-or-treating children.... More

Stop using ‘Brooklyn’ to mean hipster neighborhoods - Elite-oriented outlets typically only cover the borough’s most affluent, Manhattan-adjacent neighborhoods

The Reporters Committee is about to start suing people to help journalists - Katie Townsend joins the organization as its first litigation director

How a Nebraska newspaper kicked off a major prison sentencing scandal - The Omaha World-Herald found that hundreds of inmates were being released early

On media freedom, United Nations plays by its own rules - Months of international crises raises the stakes for reporting on the UN, but investigative journalists remain without a right to information

Keep calm and write a headline worth reading - Ease up on the exaggerations because someday you may need those explosive adjectives when a truly big story lands


Apple’s ‘warrant canary’ disappears (GigaOm)

Apple included language in its first Transparency Report to say that it had not been subject to a Section 215 Patriot Act request. That language is now gone.

Trend Piece (New Yorker)

Buzzword, buzzword, buzzword. Isn’t the buzzword on your mind now? Perhaps it is on other people’s minds? Read on or you’ll be clueless, dated, and without any friends in the world. Buzzword again!

This Is How Joanna Coles Changed Cosmo (Refinery29)

The British reporter-turned-editor has made good on her promises to bring politics to the magazine, win some very big-deal journalism awards, and secure the most interesting exclusive interviews

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.