Wednesday, November 26, 2014. Last Update: Wed 10:50 AM EST

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Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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

Proof

Is ‘proved’ the same as ‘proven’?

A basic tenet of the court system, going back to British common law, is that a suspect is “innocent until... More

How Big Is Big?

When numbers are meaningless

It’s that time of year again. Wildfires are starting to spread, well, like wildfires. And meaningless measurements of the size... More

Soaking It Up

There’s more than one way to blot a spill

The aftermath of the Gulf oil spill is giving many readers an education in a booming industry that rarely comes... More

Hyphen Tension

A ‘hyphen’ is not a ‘dash’

Precision is necessary in a lot of things in journalism—facts, spelling of names, etc. It’s also vital in Web addresses—tell... More

Stopping the Flow

‘Staunch’ or ‘stanch’?

Frantic efforts are underway to shut off the oil flowing from a well in the Gulf of Mexico. Everyone agrees... More

You Talkin’ ‘Bout Me?

Avoiding reader ‘indirection’

“A 28-year-old man who died early Saturday in a crash was remembered Sunday as an outgoing, optimistic fellow who had... More

Out the Wazoo

Misspellings of ‘yin and yang’ abound

Here’s how language changes: Take a term rendered in a foreign language, let’s say “yin and yang.” Have people start... More

Ex-Sited

An AP style change shakes things up

The Associated Press shook up the world last week. The World Wide Web, that is. The AP, whose stylebook is... More

Beset by Acrimony

Words that no one uses outside journalism

Time for a rant. Journalists seem to love certain words that no one actually uses in normal conversations. Have you... More

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

The press is responsible for ignoring Bill Cosby rape allegations - Where were journalists 10 years ago when claims originally surfaced against him?

Journalism has a plagiarism problem. But it’s not the one you’d expect - Fareed Zakaria’s case highlights news organizations’ ethical grey areas

4 topics John Oliver explained more clearly than television news - The political satirist brings explainer comedy to HBO viewers

Will radio save science journalism? - WNYC will soon have a new health unit


CNN reporters in Ferguson provide coverage of CNN reporters in Ferguson (Slate)

“[T]here was little that justified CNN’s egocentric coverage”

Which media outlets use ‘illegal immigrant’? (Fusion)

“[I]n spite of all the good reasons not to use the phrase, it is still very easy to find in the US press, even in headlines”

Jack Shafer on losing his job (Capital New York)

“Right now, my immediate plan is to go to work as a lay therapist at The Intercept to bring the healing there so John Cook and Matt Taibbi can return. I have great interpersonal skills.”

On outlets that continue to call unknown drone victims ‘militants’ (The Intercept)

“Like the US drone program itself, this deceitful media practice continues unabated”

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

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Questions and exercises for journalism students.