Thursday, October 30, 2014. Last Update: Thu 6:50 AM EST

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Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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

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

The ethics of The Guardian’s Whisper bombshell - It would have been a journalistic lapse not to have told readers

Gawker: The internet bully - Nick Denton’s media empire is an intellectual online fraternity that invites people to their parties only to make them buy the booze

The Washington Post short-sells a reporter’s integrity - Steven Pearlstein smears TheStreet’s Adam Feuerstein for criticizing a biotech firm

Former Sun-Times staffers react to top reporter’s resignation - “Whereas we don’t have all the answers, we have way too many questions about what happened here”

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


‘My Captivity’ (NYT Mag)

An American journalist on his two-year kidnapping in Syria

FBI faked an AP story, in Seattle Times style, to catch a suspect (Seattle Times)

“‘We are outraged that the FBI, with the apparent assistance of the US Attorney’s Office, misappropriated the name of The Seattle Times to secretly install spyware on the computer of a crime suspect,’ said Seattle Times Editor Kathy Best”

How one reporter copes inside the ‘Ebola bubble’ (BuzzFeed)

“Bring gloves to give nurses you meet at clinics, even if you’re there for a story. Get small change to give to the kids who have been out of school for months and are selling ground nuts for pitiful sums on the side of road. Hell, give them candy. Violate all the principles of ostensibly good aid stewardship, because the good stewardship of the developed world didn’t get help here in time, and now everyone is dying around you.”

Fake news sites using Facebook to spread Ebola panic (The Verge)

“These sites claim to be satirical but lack even incompetent attempts at anything resembling humor”

Bloggingheads

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

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