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Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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

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

Hey millionaire tech bros: Have patience with the editorial process - Chris Hughes probably wanted to enable great journalism at first. Then the dust settled and before you know it, he’s shaking everything up again

Serial creators don’t know what will happen to Adnan Syed - New developments in his legal case suggest that the outcome is wide open

Price hike at UC Berkeley’s journalism school - Governing body approves additional fee of $7,500 starting 2016

Will Denver really have a newspaper war? - As a billionaire floats reviving the Rocky Mountain News, The Denver Post might buckle its chin strap

FOIA reform dies while the press looked the other way - RIP Improvement Act of 2014


The traffic lure of outrage (Slate)

“I didn’t become a journalist to peddle indignation on Facebook. But it sells—the page views don’t lie.”

NBC news producer’s sons were in the besieged school in Peshawar (NBCnews.com)

“I remained silent and didn’t know what to say — I know how such attacks on schools usually end”

Hero mom calls into CSPAN to berate her arguing pundit sons (WaPo)

“This was not planned. She called in on the normal line.”

Dick Cheney doesn’t want to call it torture but the media doesn’t have to follow (Vox)

“People deserve to know that the American government (proudly!) did things that in any other context are called torture”

Bloggingheads

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

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The Business of Digital Journalism

A report from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Study Guides

Questions and exercises for journalism students.