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Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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Organically Grown

The DNA of new words

Language evolves. New words and concepts show up and catch on—“app,” “smartphone,” “podcast”—or die from disuse or dysfunction—“Y2K,” “newsreel,” “rad.”... More

Climate Change

Weathering a climax

An extension of a federal highway program passed the House recently, over the objections of some Democrats. “Even as they... More

Viva La Difference

Comparatively speaking

Am I “different than” you? Or “different from ” you? And does it matter? “Different than is often considered inferior... More

Locution, Locution, Locution

Fewer words take up less real estate

The Internet offers writers unlimited space and so, for many, their writing expands expansively. Readers, however, have limited attention spans.... More

Flat Out

Writers are “prone” to use the more familiar word

The gunman was “lying prone on his stomach.” He could have just been “prone,” and the writer could have saved... More

Not Just Desserts

How “junket” became a bad word

The good times were back on Wall Street, the news report said. Executives of a banking firm were staying at... More

Madison Square Gardening

Time to plant some “seeds”

It’s spring, and a young man’s fancy turns to … seeds. “Seeding” is a way of creating a tournament “draw”... More

Beggars Can Be Choosers

Questioning the questions

Every so often it’s important to revisit an issue, to clarify or modify it, depending on the circumstances. It “begs... More

Jibe Talking

Confusion over jibe, jive, gibe, and gybe

“Alas, poore Yorick,” Shakespeare wrote. “Where be your gibes now?” Or, depending on your edition of Hamlet, perhaps he wrote... More

@#?

How to quote e-mail, tweets, and such

BREAKING: Palm Beach Sheriffs Office tells @SusanCandiotti that the bomb squad is investigating a suspicious pkg near #Rush #Limbaugh home... More

Media Rare

Revisiting singular versus plural

Last week, a post at the Poynter Institute took a strong stand: “It’s time for copy editors to loosen the... More

Cardinal Sins

First or middle name?

In ceremonies filled with pomp, twenty-two men were named cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church, including two from the United... More

Silent Knight

What a difference a letter makes

For The Electric Company, Tom Lehrer wrote a song to which all writers should listen: Who can turn a can... More

Addressee Unknown

Another comma goes AWOL

The Super Bowl is over, thank heavens, so all those incorrectly punctuated signs rooting for one team or another can... More

Houses of Straw

Flimsy votes and arguments

Though we’re thick in the primary and caucus season, the testing of the political winds actually began months ago, with... More

The Jury is in

On “jury-rigged” and “jerry-built” confusion

An article about a rundown neighborhood said that “most of the buildings are jerry-rigged structures of corrugated aluminum.” Another article... More

Confidence Trick

Scams ‘R’ Us

In an episode of Dragnet from the late nineteen-sixties, Joe Friday is assigned to the “bunco squad,” where he and... More

Intoxicating

Deriving ‘drink’

No one needs to be told that the present tense of the verb “to drink” is “drink.” But what about... More

And the Word of the Year Is…

Words that topped the lists

Lots of people and organizations have issued their “words of the year” lists. Whether some of the words they chose... More

Language, Free

Blogs for grammar geeks

In Miracle on 34th Street, Kris Kringle makes lots of friends—and money for Macy’s—by sending customers elsewhere when Macy’s did... More

Stop trolling your readers - We know you’re only doing it for clicks

Des Moines Register prepares for a ‘very stressful’ newsroom restructuring - Editor Amalie Nash speaks on turnover, transformation, and a virtual reality adventure

PBS pulls ads from Harper’s Magazine after critical essay - Piece argues public broadcaster has fallen under the sway of political influence and outside money

Should all journalists be on Twitter? - Reasons to take up or forgo the 140-character platform

The Tennessean is borrowing reporters from other Gannett papers - Music columnist Peter Cooper is latest journalist to part ways with Nashville paper


How one reporter copes inside the ‘Ebola bubble’ (BuzzFeed)

“Bring gloves to give nurses you meet at clinics, even if you’re there for a story. Get small change to give to the kids who have been out of school for months and are selling ground nuts for pitiful sums on the side of road. Hell, give them candy. Violate all the principles of ostensibly good aid stewardship, because the good stewardship of the developed world didn’t get help here in time, and now everyone is dying around you.”

Fake news sites using Facebook to spread Ebola panic (The Verge)

“These sites claim to be satirical but lack even incompetent attempts at anything resembling humor”

How Ben Bradlee dealt with flacks (Washington Post)

“I would like to be sure that you understand that we trust our editors’ news judgement and that we distrust yours”

Ben Bradlee, 93 (WaPo)

“From the moment he took over The Post newsroom in 1965, Mr. Bradlee sought to create an important newspaper that would go far beyond the traditional model of a metropolitan daily”

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.