Thursday, January 29, 2015. Last Update: Thu 11:43 AM EST

Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

Almost Famous

Confusion over “infamy” and “notoriety” abounds

You probably don’t want to become “infamous.” but you may want to be “notorious.” The adjective “infamous” has traditionally meant... More

Gonna Wanna

When dialects collide

Writing the way people speak is one way to make sure your copy doesn’t become bloviated or stodgy. But journalists... More

Fraught Fest

Can something be ‘fraught’ without ‘with’?

Kirk Arnott, a retired assistant managing editor of the Columbus Dispatch who keeps his hand sharp with part-time copyediting there,... More

Title Search

Descriptions that deserve respect, or not

We love to modify things, to make them as descriptive or as recognizable as possible. It’s not just a house,... More

Call Me ‘Al’

Another confusing suffix

Is an appliance “electric” or “electrical”? Is Sarah Palin visiting “historic” sites or “historical” sites? Is being “politic” the same... More

Appositive Negatives

Some things are not unique

Last week, we talked about setting a parenthetical description off with commas in the grammatical phenomenon known as an “appositive.”... More

Negative Appositives

Phrases set off by commas

Commas are wonderful tools. They tell a reader to pause, as this one did. They can also tell a reader... More

Name-Calling

Why descriptions are better than labels

Arnold Schwarzenegger had sex with a woman who was not his wife, and that woman gave birth to their child.... More

Out of the Museum

“Curate” gets a new life

Thirty years ago, the only people who were “curators” worked in galleries or museums, deciding what pieces from the presumably... More

Failure to Launch

Adding “ing” makes a noun, or not

When the “launch” of the space shuttle Endeavor finally occurs, many “posts” will appear on blogs and news sites around... More

Hyphen-ation

A little mark can make a big difference

During the recent gathering of the American Copy Editors Society, a lot of “hyphen” jokes made the rounds. One was... More

Important News

Some “most important” notes on adverbs

Writers, rejoice! it’s perfectly acceptable to tell people what’s most important by saying “most importantly….” Many people were taught that... More

Balance Due

A change because of usage

Some grammar battles have been fought for years, and many have been lost. (See “hopefully.”) Here’s another one over the... More

Just Among Us…

Betwixt “between”

Rules tell us what to do, and require no thought. Stop at a red light, or risk getting a ticket.... More

Boing!

Springing to the past

Spring has sprung The grass is riz; I wonder where the birdies is. That little ditty, or variations of it,... More

Less is Fewer

Counting on grammar rules

More and more, fewer people use “less” and “fewer” the way the language gods intended. “There are less people here... More

Taking Dictator-tion

Not-so-subtle clues

Kevin Adams wondered whether journalists are buying in to U.S. foreign policy terminology, subliminally or not. “I’ve noticed that NPR... More

In Style

AP makes more changes

Last Monday, you could have written an “e-mail” to your friend in “Calcutta,” checked for a response on your “smart... More

False Tidals

Not-quite words for natural disasters

Disasters bring out the best in journalism and journalists, and the cataclysmic events in Japan are no different. But in... More

Women’s Suffixes

Making some nouns more feminine

If you die in some states and your son is appointed to handle your estate, he is the “executor.” If... 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.