Friday, December 19, 2014. Last Update: Fri 6:50 AM EST

Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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

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

Hey millionaire tech bros: Have patience with the editorial process - Chris Hughes probably wanted to enable great journalism at first. Then the dust settled and before you know it, he’s shaking everything up again

Serial creators don’t know what will happen to Adnan Syed - New developments in his legal case suggest that the outcome is wide open

Price hike at UC Berkeley’s journalism school - Governing body approves additional fee of $7,500 starting 2016

Will Denver really have a newspaper war? - As a billionaire floats reviving the Rocky Mountain News, The Denver Post might buckle its chin strap

FOIA reform dies while the press looked the other way - RIP Improvement Act of 2014


The traffic lure of outrage (Slate)

“I didn’t become a journalist to peddle indignation on Facebook. But it sells—the page views don’t lie.”

NBC news producer’s sons were in the besieged school in Peshawar (NBCnews.com)

“I remained silent and didn’t know what to say — I know how such attacks on schools usually end”

Hero mom calls into CSPAN to berate her arguing pundit sons (WaPo)

“This was not planned. She called in on the normal line.”

Dick Cheney doesn’t want to call it torture but the media doesn’t have to follow (Vox)

“People deserve to know that the American government (proudly!) did things that in any other context are called torture”

Bloggingheads

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

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