Wednesday, September 17, 2014. Last Update: Tue 4:18 PM EST

Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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Signposts for unfamiliar territory

How to help your readers navigate new words and ideas

A journalist’s job is to deliver information. Sometimes, though, that information needs explanation or context to make it clear. Maybe... More

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Robbing ’hood

Words involving theft

Trying to teach journalists the finer points of law is nearly as hard as trying to teach them the finer... More

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Whine lovers

Complaining with a British accent

People do a lot of whining. Lately, though, many publications seem to be spelling the complainers (or their complaints) differently.... More

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Popularity contest

Words for the people

The article was discussing a survey on the popular view of marketers and politicians. “Both have a higher perception of... More

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Of storms and ships at sea

Let’s not take them personally

We have names. Our pets have names. And so do hurricanes and ships. But, unlike us and our pets, hurricanes... More

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What are the odds?

Dealing with percentages

Take this quiz: If one candidate has 46 percent of the likely voters, and the other has 48 percent, what’s... More

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Language Corner

There, there

There are many ways to start articles and sentences. There is often a way to avoid beginning with the phrases... More

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However you want

Who’s on first?

A Florida correspondent writes: My boss is obsessed with Strunk & White, and so tells me that I can never... More

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Career advice

On the fast track to ‘careen’

Two accidents, two verbs: In New Jersey, “The car careened down the street and smashed into several parked cars before... More

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Forward-looking

Ways of telling the future

We have weather “forecasts,” budget “projections,” attempts at earthquake “predictions.” Most dictionaries say those are all synonyms for one another.... More

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‘They’ said so

Pronouns without sex

Whenever anyone who loves language wants to start a robust discussion, they have only to mention “gender-neutral pronouns,” such as... More

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Apparently not

The trouble with the apparent heart attack

The American Heart Association says that heart attacks kill about 1,200 people in the United States every day. In many... More

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Prepositions: the last word

Something to not put up with?

The purpose of last week’s posting was to warn against accepting supposedly famous quotations just because they’re repeated frequently. But... More

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Put up or shut up

‘Famous’ quotes that aren’t

Your child’s grade school teacher has asked her to come up with some “famous quotations,” so, naturally, she goes right... More

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Swap mete

One word confused with another

Today, we’re going to list some words and phrases that are often used when another is meant. These are not... More

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Language Corner

Few grudges

“Grudge,” from an old German word meaning “lament,” is a lot of fun to say. The noun “grudge” means “hostility... More

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Multiples choice

Some singular help with plural possessives

Last week we dealt with some possessive questions when there were plural possessors. Now we’ll deal with other possessives, which... More

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Pluralistic

Those pesky possessives

Two of the longest sections in most grammar and style guides concern how to form plurals and how to form... More

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Lucky strike

Not all fortunes are good

As Evan Jenkins wrote here in 1997, “fortuitous,” strictly speaking, does not mean “lucky”; it means “by chance.” So when... More

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Language Corner

Author! Author!

People who write are “writers,” though many call themselves “authors,” especially if their products are books, or legislation. More and... More

The Tea Party is timeless - Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism In American Life reviewed

How misinformation goes viral: a Truthy story - Conservative media’s reaction to an Indiana University project shows how shoddy information can quickly become an online narrative

Do you know Elise Andrew? - The creator of the Facebook page “I fucking love science” is journalism’s first self-made brand

Goodbye and good luck to all of us - Dean Starkman on leaving CJR

When quitting goes viral - Thanks to social media, resignations get a global audience


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

Awareness, #Awareness, and Ray Rice (The Classical)

The coverage of Ray Rice’s punch is not translating into offering information on domestic violence

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.