Saturday, February 28, 2015. Last Update: Fri 2:51 PM EST

Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

The Personals

When to use ‘who’ and ‘that’

“We’re the people that are going to say, ‘No,’ to Washington, D.C., taxing and spending,” U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX),... More

Lone Modifications

Adjectives may agitate

Adjectives play many roles. They can tell us which box on the gift table is being discussed—the “blue” box—so we... More

Irony Patch

It’s not a coincidence

It’s “ironic” that many journalists don’t understand when to correctly use “irony.” Here’s an example of how “irony” frequently appears... More

Quotus Interruptus

‘What … did (he) say?’

For weeks before Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees reached 3,000 career hits, he had been saying he didn’t... More

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

New survey reveals everything you think about freelancing is true - Data from Project Word quantifies challenges of freelance investigative reporting

Why one editor won’t run any more op-eds by the Heritage Foundation’s top economist - A reply to Paul Krugman on state taxes and job growth made some incorrect claims

Why we ‘stave off’ colds - It all started with wine

The New Republic, then and now - Tallying the staff turnover at the overhauled magazine

Why serious journalism can coexist with audience-pleasing content - Legacy media organizations should experiment with digital platforms while continuing to publish hard news


The rise of feelings journalism (TNR)

“Bloom engaged in an increasingly popular style of writing, which I’ve discussed on my blog before, which I call “feelings journalism.” It involves a writer making an argument based on what they imagine someone else is thinking, what they feel may be another person’s feelings. The realm of fact, of reporting, has been left behind.”

Things a war correspondent should never say (WSJ)

“The correspondent retelling war stories surely knows that fellow correspondents had faced the same dangers or worse”

On WaPo trying to interview a cow (National Journal)

“‘I wasn’t milked on the White House lawn by a strange man,’ The Washington Post—the venerable institution that would later come to break the Watergate scandal and win 48 Pulitzers—quoted her, a farm animal, as saying”

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.