Wednesday, July 30, 2014. Last Update: Wed 6:50 AM EST

Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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

Playing Tricks

The expression ‘tricked out’ isn’t new

A review of the new “Lego Rock Band” video game mentioned one cool feature: “You can also trick out your... More

Early Bird Special

On turning the clocks back

Unless you live in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, most of Arizona, or off the grid with sundials, you turned your clocks... More

Plethora Galore

When does ‘many’ become ‘too many’?

The English language has many words for “many”: “abundance,” “multitude,” “profusion,” “a lot,” and so forth. With such a “myriad”... More

Assurance Policy

The lives of ‘insure,’ ‘ensure,’ and ‘assure’

In Washington, legislators are trying to “assure” their constituents that they are working to “ensure” that any new health-care bill... More

Walk It Off

A negative baseball term becomes positive

The World Series is fast approaching, and many of the teams in the playoffs are hoping for at least one... More

Doctored Language

When medical jargon hurts

A sheriff said a suspect in the killing of a family may have some injuries, including “include cuts, lacerations, ... More

Bodies in Motion

How many objects are moving in a “collision”?

News stories frequently cover accidents where a car hits a bus, a train hits a car, a bicycle hits a... More

Lost Innocence

People plead “not guilty”

Back in the days before everyone had a computer, news stories would have to be retyped at least once before... More

Times Up

Is “three times more” the same as “three times as many”?

Most journalists didn’t become so because they’re good at math—even economic journalists. But, when dealing with numbers, you don’t have... More

All Wet

When you read, you “pore,” not “pour”

The White House releases a bunch of sensitive documents on a Friday afternoon, and the investigative reporter resigns herself to... More

Nerve Center

“Enervate” is not “energetic”

Context clues are wonderful things. With them, a writer can load an article with lots of unusual or unfamiliar words... More

Double Entendre

When one word has opposite meanings

San Francisco commuters were relieved recently when a commuter rail strike was averted. But for some time, stories about the... More

Off the Wrack

The difference between “rack” and “wrack” is a wreck

One news article said: “Compensation is coming under greater scrutiny since the world’s biggest financial companies wracked up almost $1.6... More

Apostrophe Catastrophes

Why is this little mark so troublesome?

We’ve all seen it and cringed: The sign advertising “Antique’s for Sale,” the one in the supermarket boasting about it’s... More

Silent Speaker

How “reticent” came to mean “reluctant”

In one recent news article, a buyer said he was “reticent” to participate in the “cash for clunkers” program because... More

Vir-gin Version

“Ginning up” won’t make you drunk

President Barack Obama apparently enjoys “ginning up.” While we’ve known that his wife, Michelle, enjoys a martini or two on... More

You Spell Potato, I Spell Potatoe

Spelling “foreign” words

If you read The New York Times, you’ve run across news of things happening in the Saudi Arabian city “Jidda.”... More

Sacrilegious

“Secular” moves from the church to the state

We’re living in a “secular” time. Well, duh. Of course it’s “secular”; America has no state religion, as in Israel... More

Uncoupling

Is it OK to omit the “of” after “couple”?

The coach was talking about his latest trade, which he said was “hopefully the first of several deals to come... 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


How to be a decent entertainment reporter (Eric Danton)

“Here’s how not to suck at it: Don’t write like an entertainment reporter”

A First Look update (First Look Media)

“[R]ather than immediately launching a large collection of digital ‘magazines’ based on strong, expert journalists with their own followings, as we imagined earlier, we’ll begin by building out the two we’ve started and then explore adding new ones as we learn”

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”

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.