Monday, September 22, 2014. Last Update: Fri 4:26 PM EST

Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

Overly Possessive

Why the lack of an apostrophe sometimes isn’t wrong

A student recently asked why she had been corrected when she wrote “The teacher’s union voted to strike.” That’s easy:... More

Loan Ranger

Money can change a noun to a verb

The reporter seemingly couldn’t make up his mind. In an article about a mayor’s financial problem, the reporter used a... More

Who, I?

When personal pronouns don’t get along

If you go to Language Corner’s Facebook page (and while you’re there, you may as well “like” it), you’ll see... More

Echo Chamber

On redundant acronyms and initialisms

An acronym or initialism can become so familiar that we forget what it stands for and add one of its... More

Selling Short

When words are truncated, spellings differ

By now, just about everyone knows what an “app” is, and knows it’s short for “application.” The verb form of... More

Un-towards

Tacking ‘s’ on to some directional words

“The electorate seems to be moving towards the right,” one media site said after a conservative candidate won a recent... More

Sic Transitive Gloria

‘For,’ ‘from,’ and ‘on’ go bye-bye

When a journalism professor gave students the sentence “He snapped to attention only when a tourist asked directions,” a number... More

Been There

Learning to dodge clichés

Hurricane Earl was a monster, a Category 4 storm. Along the East Coast from North Carolina to New England, news... More

You Said What?

Words that have changed meaning

Kenn Fong wonders about words whose meanings have been co-opted by popular culture. “The other day a friend spoke of... More

Look It Up!

A dictionary by any other name…

Twitter was all, ah, atwitter last week because a new edition of a dictionary came out, adding about 2,000 words... More

Double Word Score

The same word, only different

The truck on the highway carrying dangerous chemicals usually carries a notice that its contents are “inflammable.” If the truck... More

Capital Losses

When a noun is proper, or not

The coming fall elections promise a lot of intrigue. We will read in The New York Times all about the... More

Sworn Out

How vulgar can you be?

Caution: Adult content ahead! Only a dork or scumbag wouldn’t acknowledge screwing up, though admitting error really sucks. And only... More

For Giving

How to know when ‘for’ needs an ‘e’

A golfer who hits a ball into the vicinity of others is beholden to yell “Fore!” to warn them to... More

Two Shall Be as One

The gospel of merging words

In the beginning, there were two words. And people went forth and used the words separately or together as needed.... More

Presto, Chango!

The magic of a deceptive word

Many legislators are resorting to interesting budget tricks to try to pay for everything they want without necessarily having the... More

The ‘-ize’ Have It

A popular suffix gets even more so

News organizations are in a quandary. They’re trying to “incentivize” readers, “monetize” the publication’s content, and “prioritize” their resources. It’s... More

Style-ish

Yahoo shows why the Web really is different

Yahoo! There’s a new style guide! By Yahoo! Available now on the Web and to be available in print very... More

Dangling by a Thread

Misplaced modifiers can confuse and amuse

“After beating Jankovic in 60 minutes in the semifinals, Stosur’s parents and two brothers flew in from Australia to watch... More

On Your Mark

Trademarks that no one treats as such

When you have a cold, you use a lot of kleenex. When you cut yourself, you put on a band-aid.... 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


Adviser of high school paper that refused to use ‘Redskins’ suspended (Student Press Law Center)

“Amid a months-long battle with administrators for editorial control … the Playwickian’s faculty adviser was suspended for two days this week”

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.