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Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

For Giving

How to know when ‘for’ needs an ‘e’

A golfer who hits a ball into the vicinity of others is beholden to yell “Fore!” to warn them to... More

Two Shall Be as One

The gospel of merging words

In the beginning, there were two words. And people went forth and used the words separately or together as needed.... More

Presto, Chango!

The magic of a deceptive word

Many legislators are resorting to interesting budget tricks to try to pay for everything they want without necessarily having the... More

The ‘-ize’ Have It

A popular suffix gets even more so

News organizations are in a quandary. They’re trying to “incentivize” readers, “monetize” the publication’s content, and “prioritize” their resources. It’s... More

Style-ish

Yahoo shows why the Web really is different

Yahoo! There’s a new style guide! By Yahoo! Available now on the Web and to be available in print very... More

Dangling by a Thread

Misplaced modifiers can confuse and amuse

“After beating Jankovic in 60 minutes in the semifinals, Stosur’s parents and two brothers flew in from Australia to watch... More

On Your Mark

Trademarks that no one treats as such

When you have a cold, you use a lot of kleenex. When you cut yourself, you put on a band-aid.... More

Proof

Is ‘proved’ the same as ‘proven’?

A basic tenet of the court system, going back to British common law, is that a suspect is “innocent until... More

How Big Is Big?

When numbers are meaningless

It’s that time of year again. Wildfires are starting to spread, well, like wildfires. And meaningless measurements of the size... More

Soaking It Up

There’s more than one way to blot a spill

The aftermath of the Gulf oil spill is giving many readers an education in a booming industry that rarely comes... More

Hyphen Tension

A ‘hyphen’ is not a ‘dash’

Precision is necessary in a lot of things in journalism—facts, spelling of names, etc. It’s also vital in Web addresses—tell... More

Stopping the Flow

‘Staunch’ or ‘stanch’?

Frantic efforts are underway to shut off the oil flowing from a well in the Gulf of Mexico. Everyone agrees... More

You Talkin’ ‘Bout Me?

Avoiding reader ‘indirection’

“A 28-year-old man who died early Saturday in a crash was remembered Sunday as an outgoing, optimistic fellow who had... More

Out the Wazoo

Misspellings of ‘yin and yang’ abound

Here’s how language changes: Take a term rendered in a foreign language, let’s say “yin and yang.” Have people start... More

Ex-Sited

An AP style change shakes things up

The Associated Press shook up the world last week. The World Wide Web, that is. The AP, whose stylebook is... More

Beset by Acrimony

Words that no one uses outside journalism

Time for a rant. Journalists seem to love certain words that no one actually uses in normal conversations. Have you... More

Portion Control

The many variations of ‘proportion’

How do I “proportion” thee? Let me count the ways: • “Checks dated by April 30 will receive a special,... More

Exclusive

When a list doesn’t include everything

The newspaper reported a burglary, and said that “four items were taken, including a DVD player, a laptop computer, an... More

Probably Likely

A change that likely needs making

Now that the health care bill is through Congress, President Obama “likely” will sign it soon, opponents “likely” will challenge... More

Your Deal

Confusing a ‘card shark’ with a ‘cardsharp’

You’re in Vegas, putting your poker skills to the test. As you are raking in the chips from a particularly... 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


‘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”

How one reporter copes inside the ‘Ebola bubble’ (BuzzFeed)

“Bring gloves to give nurses you meet at clinics, even if you’re there for a story. Get small change to give to the kids who have been out of school for months and are selling ground nuts for pitiful sums on the side of road. Hell, give them candy. Violate all the principles of ostensibly good aid stewardship, because the good stewardship of the developed world didn’t get help here in time, and now everyone is dying around you.”

Fake news sites using Facebook to spread Ebola panic (The Verge)

“These sites claim to be satirical but lack even incompetent attempts at anything resembling humor”

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.