Monday, November 24, 2014. Last Update: Mon 10:55 AM EST

Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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

Yule Love This

Making a list of holiday expressions

A couple of years ago we discussed some of abuse that poor, misused apostrophes suffer this time of year, in... More

Homegrown

The living language

To look back at the early years of the Columbia Journalism Review is to look at how we used... More

On, Dasher!

A punctuation mark loved too much—or not enough

Many punctuation marks have different uses—think of the comma—but only a few leap off the page to a reader’s eye—as... More

Friendly Fire

Insulting without meaning to

As language and society evolve, words that were once considered merely slang sometimes take on an offensive odor. In the... More

Separation Anxiety

Smoothing comparative phrases

Black Friday is coming! And this one will be as big as, if not more hyped and crowded than, Cyber... More

Taking the Fifth

A dictionary, updated, adds and subtracts

The Fifth Edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language is out, cause for celebration for some and... More

Conjunction-itis

What about ifs, ands, or buts?

Many generations of students have had certain grammar “truths” drilled into their little heads. One is the “myth” that infinitives... More

Taking Names in Vain

Why we care, for Pete’s sake

You’re with your five-year-old at the ice cream shop, and she can’t decide which of the dozens of flavors to... More

Fermenting Revolution

Some terms associated with beer

With “Oktoberfests” popping up all over, it seems a good time to grab a “growler” and get “krausened.” The first... More

Making Introductions

Putting the cart before the tumbrel

Writers frequently introduce a topic or unfamiliar phrase, then define it, as in “The condemned rode to the gallows in... More

No Use

The “d” is (usually) not optional

The Northeast has been experiencing a bit of a resurgent summer*, so cool refreshments have been called for. You have... More

Only You Know

Once in a while, placement matters

OK, we’ll admit it: Most of the time you can put “only” anywhere in a sentence and no one will... More

Unequal Rights

All synonyms are not the same

Strunk and White’s Elements of Style counsels to avoid euphemism, and, as we wrote on the book’s fiftieth anniversary,... More

None of the Above

Plural or singular? Yes.

How many of you were taught that “none” stands for “no one,” and must always take a singular verb? Bet... More

Bodily Functions

The scent of a language

The scene may have been a long coach ride or a London park bench on a hot day, but the... More

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

The press is responsible for ignoring Bill Cosby rape allegations - Where were journalists 10 years ago when claims originally surfaced against him?

Journalism has a plagiarism problem. But it’s not the one you’d expect - Fareed Zakaria’s case highlights news organizations’ ethical grey areas

4 topics John Oliver explained more clearly than television news - The political satirist brings explainer comedy to HBO viewers

Will radio save science journalism? - WNYC will soon have a new health unit


Which media outlets use ‘illegal immigrant’? (Fusion)

“[I]n spite of all the good reasons not to use the phrase, it is still very easy to find in the US press, even in headlines”

Jack Shafer on losing his job (Capital New York)

“Right now, my immediate plan is to go to work as a lay therapist at The Intercept to bring the healing there so John Cook and Matt Taibbi can return. I have great interpersonal skills.”

On outlets that continue to call unknown drone victims ‘militants’ (The Intercept)

“Like the US drone program itself, this deceitful media practice continues unabated”

UNITY’s convention is no more (All Digitocracy)

“The organization’s board of directors decided that UNITY will no longer host the quadrennial conferences for which it had become known”

Bloggingheads

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

  • If you like the magazine, get the rest of the year for just $19.95 (6 issues in all).
  • If not, simply write cancel on the bill and return it. You will owe nothing.

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.