Monday, October 20, 2014. Last Update: Mon 2:50 PM EST

Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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

What’s All the Fuss?

Describing an uproar with fun words

Journalists love words, and many will go out of their way to find “special” ways of using unusual words. Sometimes... More

False Alarms

What the fire department doesn’t tell you

The fire department was having a busy day. First it was the “two-alarm” fire and then came the “six-alarm” one.... More

Jumping Off ‘Allege’

The criminalization of a word

It’s virtually impossible to pinpoint when the misuse of a word or phrase becomes so common that it’s no longer... More

Compounded Interest

Pick your prefix: “dis” or “un”?

You’ve gotten into a dispute with a merchant, who sold you what you think is defective merchandise. Because the merchant... More

As You Like It

Avoiding “such as” problems

Journalists often have difficulty with highly focused grammatical concepts like subject-verb agreement, dangling participles, whether “none” is plural or singular,... More

Sick-Out

What do you say when you call?

You’re not feeling well. Maybe it’s the swine flu—or the Mexican flu or H1N1—but you don’t want to take any... More

Freelance-A-Lot

Defining the terms of employment

What happens to many journalists who are laid off? in many cases, they become “permalancers,” sometimes even for their previous... 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


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

What it’s like to carry a Nobel Prize through Fargo (SciAm)

“And they’re like, ‘Uhhhh. Who gave this to you?’ ‘The King of Sweden.’ ‘Why did he give this to you?’ ‘Because I helped discover the expansion rate of the universe was accelerating.’”

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.