Sunday, February 01, 2015. Last Update: Fri 4:35 PM EST

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Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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Shhh! It doesn’t matter

A “moot” discussion

The silence is deafening. All over the Internet and printed publications, people are making “mute points”: • A press release... More

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Bell curves

Lots of “ring” words

“You must be a ringer,” the journalism instructor told the student, who insisted that, though he had many years of... More

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Memorializing

What to call those piles of flowers

Bob Kamman, a regular correspondent, writes: When unexpected deaths occur that are newsworthy, what often happens is that people leave... More

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En-gendered

Terms for sexual identity

Dealing with gender identity these days is a tricky business. And while we prefer to use “sex” to describe biological... More

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Sentimental journey

Evaluating a ‘journeyman’

The article’s headline promised a story “on the life of a journeyman musician.” It discussed a man who has been... More

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Your choice

Alternating between alternatives

Cities that have hard winters have no “alternative” and must repair roads in the summer. And when they do, they... More

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Par for the course

Putting golf terms in context

Let’s say you’ve just arrived from another planet, with a mastery of English, but little exposure to the popular sport... More

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Digging in

The etymology of a “clawback”

“Jamie Dimon: JPMorgan Will Likely Claw Back Pay From Responsible Executives,” the headline said. Dimon, JPMorgan’s chief executive, was telling... More

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Out of range

Everything from 1 to z

We love to “range.” When describing a new shopping mall, for example, an article might say: “It has everything from... More

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Empty pockets

A phrase with several meanings

Max Crittenden posted on Language Corner’s Facebook page: I’m seeing some peculiar usage (misuse, to my mind) of the phrase... More

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Language Corner

Basis Points

“On a case-by-case basis.” “On a regular basis.” “On an urgent basis.” Each of those base expressions, from The Associated... More

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That’s that, part two

Keeping a reader on the right path

Last week we talked about the use of “that” after a verb of speech, like “said,” “acknowledged,” etc. This week,... More

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That’s that, part one

A word used too often, or not enough

“President Obama said Wednesday he would go to Europe.” Is Wednesday the day he is going to Europe? Or the... More

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Logue jam

A catalog of dialogues

“Catalogue” can also be spelled “catalog.” “Dialogue” can also be spelled “dialog.” But “monologue” is rarely spelled “monolog.” The Americans... More

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No fun

Noun? Verb? Yes. Adjective? Well …

The journalism professor was not having much “fun” explaining things to her feature-writing students: “I know so fun is wrong... More

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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

Virginian-Pilot journalists: Corporate management pressure is stifling coverage - “Lovers of journalism in this newsroom are pissed. It’s bad.”

Paper files public records request—and city’s response is a lawsuit - Local officials argue Montana courts should strike balance between privacy and disclosure

BBC Pop-Up reports from small town America - A small team is traveling across the United States for six months in hopes of finding underreported local stories

What game design can do for journalism - Three newly selected fellows at American University talk about the medium’s future

Timeline, an app based on ‘the history of…’ - But chronology doesn’t reveal everything


Photojournalism while pregnant (NYT Mag)

“Momentarily forgetting I was pregnant, I jockeyed for a position close enough to capture the initial moments of euphoria, hurling myself into the mix of hundreds of frenzied relatives. As the weight of men started to close in on me, I realized how vulnerable I was and started to panic.”

We should all step back from security journalism (Medium)

“It should be made clear, in law, that the tasks security reseachers do to make the net more secure and journalists do to understand and contextualize the truth for the public are not crimes”

Trust In Business And Media Is Declining, But People Have Faith In Search Engines (Buzzfeed)

People have become less trusting of major institutions, according to the annual Edelman Trust Barometer. And large majorities doubt that businesses want to make the world a better place.

With New Charlie Hebdo Cover, News Value Should Have Prevailed (NYT)

Public editor Margaret Sullivan on why the paper should have published the images.

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.