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Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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

Portion Control

The many variations of ‘proportion’

How do I “proportion” thee? Let me count the ways: • “Checks dated by April 30 will receive a special,... More

Exclusive

When a list doesn’t include everything

The newspaper reported a burglary, and said that “four items were taken, including a DVD player, a laptop computer, an... More

Probably Likely

A change that likely needs making

Now that the health care bill is through Congress, President Obama “likely” will sign it soon, opponents “likely” will challenge... More

Your Deal

Confusing a ‘card shark’ with a ‘cardsharp’

You’re in Vegas, putting your poker skills to the test. As you are raking in the chips from a particularly... More

No Lectures, Please

‘Podium’ and ‘lectern’ are often interchangeable

There’s an old joke among journalists—OK, mostly among copy editors—about a passage that says that the speaker “stood behind the... More

Incomplete

Why use “completely”?

“Completely” is probably one of the most completely superfluous words in the English language. Too often, it’s used to emphasize... More

Exit Strategies

Why are there so many ways to leave?

The Eskimos may—or may not—have many words for “snow,” but we English speakers certainly have a number of words to... More

Special Issue

A problematic discussion

Gene Foreman has an issue with “issues.” “I see the misuse of ‘issues’ as a synonym for ‘problems’ as part... More

Meta Data

Self, meet yourself

Lady Gaga and Elton John, two of the music world’s most self-referential and self-aware performers, sang a duet at the... More

Natural Selection

The dilemma of choices

These are tough times, and politicians have to make hard choices about how to spend the smaller amounts of money... More

Sissy Talk

“Pantywaist” has survived for nearly 100 years

If you had children in the early part of the twentieth century, you probably clothed the babies in one-piece suits,... More

Sizing It Up

‘Downsize’ upgrades itself

In a letter to CJR, Jeffrey Kaye, a freelance journalist and author, objected to some usages in recent articles about... More

Compound Interest

When you’re not quite a suspect

In the wake of the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a commercial jet, we were introduced to a new term.... More

Word

When auld acquaintance be forgot

As the new year begins, we’re reeling from an overload of retrospective lists: top news stories; persons of the year;... More

Seizin’ Greetings

Tis the season for misplaced apostrophes

Pity the poor apostrophe. Even in this, the jolliest of seasons, its traditional role is misused, abused, and forgotten. As... More

Singulars Bar

Pronouns and nouns need to be monogamous—and non-sexist

Grammar is a strict matchmaker: singular subjects must be paired with singular verbs, and plural subjects can associate only with... More

Just Because

Let us count the reasons why

One reason why columns like this are written is because so many writers don’t realize when a tautology has them... More

Before the Beginning

Doing away with some pre-fixes

One of English’s favorite prefixes is “pre,” three little letters that mean “before.” It helps modify words like “nuptial,” “conception,”... More

Your Move

Chess terminology, imprecisely played

To practice politics, one must know something about strategy. Like a poker player, a politician needs to know when to... More

How Forbes got to $475 million - That’s what a Hong Kong investor has agreed to pay for a firm that two years ago had trouble paying its rent

Journalists subpoenaed in ‘pink-slime’ suit - BPI wants emails from NYT’s Michael Moss, public-health lawyer Michele Simon, and others

Bloomberg struggles to break out of the box - Justin Smith’s ambitious digital transformation hits some bumps

The Grand Dame of Florida reporting has retired twice, but she’s still causing trouble - A conversation with the Tampa Bay Times’ Lucy Morgan

Embedded with the Koch brothers - Hometown reporters get rare access to the media-shy oilmen, with mixed results


The 60-second interview: Marty Baron (Capital New York)

CAPITAL: I just noticed that the most-read story right now on your website is an aggregated piece about a Russian lizard sex station in space. BARON: [Laughs] Is that right?

Your iPhone can now make free encrypted calls (Wired)

The beginning of the end of burner phones?

The new face of Richard Norris (GQ)

“‘Richard?’ I say. ‘Richard?’ I shove his shoulder and nothing happens. He is dead. He is on my watch and he is dead. I hear gurgling. Breathing. He’s on my watch and he is not dead.”

How to be a decent entertainment reporter (Eric Danton)

“Here’s how not to suck at it: Don’t write like an entertainment reporter”

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.