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Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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

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

Stop trolling your readers - We know you’re only doing it for clicks

Des Moines Register prepares for a ‘very stressful’ newsroom restructuring - Editor Amalie Nash speaks on turnover, transformation, and a virtual reality adventure

PBS pulls ads from Harper’s Magazine after critical essay - Piece argues public broadcaster has fallen under the sway of political influence and outside money

Should all journalists be on Twitter? - Reasons to take up or forgo the 140-character platform

The Tennessean is borrowing reporters from other Gannett papers - Music columnist Peter Cooper is latest journalist to part ways with Nashville paper


I’m a black journalists quitting media because I’m sick of racism (TNR)

“Among the challenges that make racism so difficult to fix, and so odiously constant, is that white people often don’t even recognize when they’re saying or doing something that cuts their black colleagues to the bone”

High Times hits middle age (NYMag)

After 40 years, every issue still features a weed centerfold

Lawmakers on why they’re mired in place (Esquire)

Mark Warren “spoke with 90 members of the House and Senate about what’s gone so wrong in Congress. Sometimes it got a little emotional.”

My childhood friend, the ISIS jihadist (Mashable)

How a young Danish man turned extremist

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.