Wednesday, September 03, 2014. Last Update: Tue 3:20 PM EST

Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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

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

Q&A: An Apple critic with plenty to say - John Siracusa’s legendary - and lengthy - Apple reviews reach their 15th year

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

4 topics John Oliver explained more clearly than television news - The political satirist brings explainer comedy to HBO viewers

Michael Brown shooting and the crimes journalists choose as newsworthy - Examining why black suspects are covered at a greater proportion than they commit crimes

GOP-backed fake news sites target Dems in congressional races - - Unlike The Onion and other satire sites, the goal is to fool voters, not make them laugh


New WaPo publisher (WaPo)

The departure of Katharine Weymouth ends eight decades of Graham family leadership

The impact of watching executions (PSmag)

“[E]xecutions, even for people who support capital punishment, and even when the criminals being put to death evoke little personal sympathy because of the nature of their crimes, take a toll on witnesses”

Times of India demands employee social media passwords (Quartz)

The company will possess log-in information and will be free to post any material to the account without journalists’ knowledge

Reconnecting with a story source, 17 years later (Hartford Courant)

“People who say reporters exploit people? You are right, we do. We parachute into people’s lives, sidle up, convince them that we care — and then disengage when the story is over. But that doesn’t mean we don’t connect, in a genuine way.”

Bloggingheads

Greg Marx discusses democracy and news with Tom Rosenstiel of the American Press Institute

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