Saturday, December 27, 2014. Last Update: Fri 6:50 AM EST

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Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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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

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

Reporters fail to capture implications of pension provision - A ‘big shift’ tucked into the spending bill goes under-examined

The New Republic: A public trust or a business? - How Chris Hughes turned a 100-year-old publication into a “product”

Serial creators don’t know what will happen to Adnan Syed - New developments in his legal case suggest that the outcome is wide open

FOIA reform dies while the press looked the other way - RIP Improvement Act of 2014

The problem with sharing uncredited photos - “Just because you put something on the internet does not give people the right to steal it”


The traffic lure of outrage (Slate)

“I didn’t become a journalist to peddle indignation on Facebook. But it sells—the page views don’t lie.”

NBC news producer’s sons were in the besieged school in Peshawar (NBCnews.com)

“I remained silent and didn’t know what to say — I know how such attacks on schools usually end”

Hero mom calls into CSPAN to berate her arguing pundit sons (WaPo)

“This was not planned. She called in on the normal line.”

Dick Cheney doesn’t want to call it torture but the media doesn’t have to follow (Vox)

“People deserve to know that the American government (proudly!) did things that in any other context are called torture”

Bloggingheads

Greg Marx discusses democracy and news with Tom Rosenstiel of the American Press Institute

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The Business of Digital Journalism

A report from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

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Questions and exercises for journalism students.