Friday, February 27, 2015. Last Update: Fri 2:51 PM EST

Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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Word choice and reader knowledge

Journalists should write with vocabulary most readers possess

We use words because they articulate what we want or need to say (we hope). But how do you know... More

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Since when?

Using a substitute for ‘because’

Since teaching grammar to children is so challenging, teachers often resort to "rules," using memory tricks to hammer them home.... More

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Through the wringer

Squeezing the meaning from “eke”

Sometimes, a photo "ekes out of the printer." Other times, electronics help "to eke out extra mileage" in cars. And... More

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Made up

Fictional, fictitious, fictive, and factitious

"Fiction," we all know, is something that is not true. So is "a lie." But they're not quite synonyms: Fiction... More

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Hamming it up

Too many ‘bad actors’

When it gets cold and wintry, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said, "alongside acts of goodwill and kindness, a... More

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Language Corner

Naming rights

The New York Times recently added an entry to its eponymous stylebook, available only online: "In precise, traditional usage, an... More

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Tweaking ‘twerk’

Word of the Year lists

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Time for all the familiar clichés, misused or mispunctuated tho' they may... More

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Losing prepositions

When the little words get out of hand

"People hustle their way at the avenue, as the majority crossed onto the other side. Yellow-shirted men on navy blue... More

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Cast away

Do you live ‘on’ or ‘in’ an island?

Prepositions are funny things. Most of them are short words, but they can alter the meaning of a phrase or... More

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Paddle ball

Making a “racket” over “racquet”

Many people are hoping to get new tennis "rackets" this holiday season. But many people who play "racquetball" are hoping... More

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Acts of piracy

The history of ‘filibuster’

During Wendy Davis' "filibuster" of the Texas Senate in May, seeking to block a bill to limit abortions, Gov. Rick... More

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Fighting words

Libel, slander, and defamation

Last week, we promised that you were liable to be surprised by the differences between "libel," "slander," and "defamation." We... More

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Taking responsibility

Some uses of “liable” are likely to be questioned

A friend was handicapping the Academy Award nominations, though they're still months away. "Sandra Bullock is liable to win best... More

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Don’t tread on me

The difference between “trample” and “trammel”

The requirement of the Affordable Care Act that employers provide access to free contraceptives "trammels the right of free exercise"... More

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Language Corner

Next of kin

We have mothers-in-law, fathers-in-law, sons- and daughters-in-law, sisters- and brothers-in-law. But what should you call the parents of your child's... More

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Aggressive passive

Why active voice is not always better

Strunk & White hated it. George Orwell did, too. Nearly every grammar text and English teacher say it: The passive... More

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Consensus taking

It’s okay to repeat yourself

If you're a journalist, you're often trying to save words, so you should try to eliminate redundancies in phrases like... More

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Coming soon

‘Imminent’ changes are afoot

In "eminent domain," a government can seize property for public use, as long as it compensates the owner. In "imminent... More

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Space age

A discussion of spaceage

A few years ago, a student journalist wrote a profile for a class that recalled how she found her calling:... More

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Place your bets

The difference between “gambling” and “gaming”

You have to be in Vegas for a conference, and you decide to while some time away at the slots.... More

New survey reveals everything you think about freelancing is true - Data from Project Word quantifies challenges of freelance investigative reporting

Why one editor won’t run any more op-eds by the Heritage Foundation’s top economist - A reply to Paul Krugman on state taxes and job growth made some incorrect claims

Why we ‘stave off’ colds - It all started with wine

The New Republic, then and now - Tallying the staff turnover at the overhauled magazine

Why serious journalism can coexist with audience-pleasing content - Legacy media organizations should experiment with digital platforms while continuing to publish hard news


The rise of feelings journalism (TNR)

“Bloom engaged in an increasingly popular style of writing, which I’ve discussed on my blog before, which I call “feelings journalism.” It involves a writer making an argument based on what they imagine someone else is thinking, what they feel may be another person’s feelings. The realm of fact, of reporting, has been left behind.”

Things a war correspondent should never say (WSJ)

“The correspondent retelling war stories surely knows that fellow correspondents had faced the same dangers or worse”

On WaPo trying to interview a cow (National Journal)

“‘I wasn’t milked on the White House lawn by a strange man,’ The Washington Post—the venerable institution that would later come to break the Watergate scandal and win 48 Pulitzers—quoted her, a farm animal, as saying”

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.