Monday, July 28, 2014. Last Update: Fri 5:17 PM EST

Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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

No Lectures, Please

‘Podium’ and ‘lectern’ are often interchangeable

There’s an old joke among journalists—OK, mostly among copy editors—about a passage that says that the speaker “stood behind the... More

Incomplete

Why use “completely”?

“Completely” is probably one of the most completely superfluous words in the English language. Too often, it’s used to emphasize... More

Exit Strategies

Why are there so many ways to leave?

The Eskimos may—or may not—have many words for “snow,” but we English speakers certainly have a number of words to... More

Special Issue

A problematic discussion

Gene Foreman has an issue with “issues.” “I see the misuse of ‘issues’ as a synonym for ‘problems’ as part... More

Meta Data

Self, meet yourself

Lady Gaga and Elton John, two of the music world’s most self-referential and self-aware performers, sang a duet at the... More

Natural Selection

The dilemma of choices

These are tough times, and politicians have to make hard choices about how to spend the smaller amounts of money... More

Sissy Talk

“Pantywaist” has survived for nearly 100 years

If you had children in the early part of the twentieth century, you probably clothed the babies in one-piece suits,... More

Sizing It Up

‘Downsize’ upgrades itself

In a letter to CJR, Jeffrey Kaye, a freelance journalist and author, objected to some usages in recent articles about... More

Compound Interest

When you’re not quite a suspect

In the wake of the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a commercial jet, we were introduced to a new term.... More

Word

When auld acquaintance be forgot

As the new year begins, we’re reeling from an overload of retrospective lists: top news stories; persons of the year;... More

Seizin’ Greetings

Tis the season for misplaced apostrophes

Pity the poor apostrophe. Even in this, the jolliest of seasons, its traditional role is misused, abused, and forgotten. As... More

Singulars Bar

Pronouns and nouns need to be monogamous—and non-sexist

Grammar is a strict matchmaker: singular subjects must be paired with singular verbs, and plural subjects can associate only with... More

Just Because

Let us count the reasons why

One reason why columns like this are written is because so many writers don’t realize when a tautology has them... More

Before the Beginning

Doing away with some pre-fixes

One of English’s favorite prefixes is “pre,” three little letters that mean “before.” It helps modify words like “nuptial,” “conception,”... More

Your Move

Chess terminology, imprecisely played

To practice politics, one must know something about strategy. Like a poker player, a politician needs to know when to... More

Foundering Flounders

When a fish is not a failure

Whenever the government announces the failure of another bank, a news outlet somewhere reports that the bank has “floundered.” Well... More

How Forbes got to $475 million - That’s what a Hong Kong investor has agreed to pay for a firm that two years ago had trouble paying its rent

Are female journalists up to the job of a Jill Abramson interview? - Reporters avoid unflattering discussion about her firing

How to check if that viral video is true - Journalists don’t always verify user-generated content, so readers need to learn how to verify what they see online

The Grand Dame of Florida reporting has retired twice, but she’s still causing trouble - A conversation with the Tampa Bay Times’ Lucy Morgan

Brick by brick - After years of shrinking ambition at The Washington Post, Jeff Bezos has the paper thinking global domination


The White House deploys minders to interviews all the time (WaPo)

“Almost every officially sanctioned exchange between reporters and the proverbial ‘senior administration officials’ is conducted in the presence of a press staffer”

The down-and-dirty history of TMZ (BuzzFeed)

“TMZ’s real engine — what defines its mission, what legitimizes it and sets it apart — is a unique and controversial mix of scandal mongering and investigative journalism”

The 10 worst New Yorker longreads (Gawker)

“[A]pparently [Adam] Gopnik did not know you could bake fancy breads from France and other cultures. So he got his mom to teach him how to bake them. A fine anecdote, maybe, to tell a friend or a therapist. But in this case he wrote about it for the New Yorker, a magazine.”

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.