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Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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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

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

The ethics of The Guardian’s Whisper bombshell - It would have been a journalistic lapse not to have told readers

Gawker: The internet bully - Nick Denton’s media empire is an intellectual online fraternity that invites people to their parties only to make them buy the booze

The Washington Post short-sells a reporter’s integrity - Steven Pearlstein smears TheStreet’s Adam Feuerstein for criticizing a biotech firm

Former Sun-Times staffers react to top reporter’s resignation - “Whereas we don’t have all the answers, we have way too many questions about what happened here”

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


John Oliver video sweepstakes (The Awl)

“We may update this list next week to reflect Facebook shares gathered by The Awl as the result of this post, which is ultimately an elaborate excuse to embed a John Oliver video on our website”

Which news org is the most trusted? (Pew)

The answer is complicated

‘My Captivity’ (NYT Mag)

An American journalist on his two-year kidnapping in Syria

FBI faked an AP story, in Seattle Times style, to catch a suspect (Seattle Times)

“‘We are outraged that the FBI, with the apparent assistance of the US Attorney’s Office, misappropriated the name of The Seattle Times to secretly install spyware on the computer of a crime suspect,’ said Seattle Times Editor Kathy Best”

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.