Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Last Update: Mon 2:50 PM EST

Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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

I Want to Be Alone

Why one transition should disappear

Journalists are pack animals. If someone does a story, others often follow. So it is, too, with words and phrases.... More

Caution! Merge Ahead

How two words become one

Two-word expressions often cause trouble when they are combined with yet a third word, becoming compound modifiers. Most journalists have... More

Let’s Not Fight About It

It’s arguably not worth it

For unknown reasons, English speakers insist on making the language more difficult than it already is, by modifying words to... More

The Golden Years

Happy fiftieth birthday, Strunk & White

April 16 was the fiftieth anniversary of the release of The Elements of Style, the “little book” that so many... More

Serial Killer

Why the ‘serial comma’ isn’t important

You know it, and you love it or hate it—it’s the last comma in a simple series, the one before... More

Snark Hunt

The search for the true meaning

Sometimes, dictionaries just don’t get it. this one will define a word one way; that one will define the same... More

Hopefully Yours

Is “full of hope” full of it?

“Hopefully,” Americans have been watching the first overseas visit of President Barack Obama. Those Americans who were taught English and... More

Firing Blanks

Is everyone who loses a job “fired”?

The day Brenda Starr has been dreading has arrived. Her new boss, Mr. Bottomline, says she has become too expensive.... More

Stop, Fief!

A long-term lease on a made-up word

Let us travel back to those thrilling days of feudalism, when lords were lords and everyone else paid high taxes... More

Waif Goodbye

How various dictionaries define the word “waif”

Let’s say you find a “waif” on the street and take it home. Should you call an orphanage, an animal... More

Wait Lifted

Do you wait for, on, or upon someone?

For hundreds of years, linguists, grammarians, and others have argued over what word should follow “wait,” as in “I am... More

Persuasive Convincing

On the vanishing distinctions between “persuade” and “convince”

Back when English grammar was rigorously taught in schools, certain rules were hammered into students’ heads: Never split an infinitive;... More

A Noisome Joy

Another word that doesn’t mean what it looks like it means

Think of all the words that don’t mean what their spellings seem to indicate they mean—among the ones already discussed... More

How Forbes got to $475 million - That’s what a Hong Kong investor has agreed to pay for a firm that two years ago had trouble paying its rent

Are female journalists up to the job of a Jill Abramson interview? - Reporters avoid unflattering discussion about her firing

How to check if that viral video is true - Journalists don’t always verify user-generated content, so readers need to learn how to verify what they see online

The Grand Dame of Florida reporting has retired twice, but she’s still causing trouble - A conversation with the Tampa Bay Times’ Lucy Morgan

Brick by brick - After years of shrinking ambition at The Washington Post, Jeff Bezos has the paper thinking global domination


A First Look update (First Look Media)

“[R]ather than immediately launching a large collection of digital ‘magazines’ based on strong, expert journalists with their own followings, as we imagined earlier, we’ll begin by building out the two we’ve started and then explore adding new ones as we learn”

The White House deploys minders to interviews all the time (WaPo)

“Almost every officially sanctioned exchange between reporters and the proverbial ‘senior administration officials’ is conducted in the presence of a press staffer”

The down-and-dirty history of TMZ (BuzzFeed)

“TMZ’s real engine — what defines its mission, what legitimizes it and sets it apart — is a unique and controversial mix of scandal mongering and investigative journalism”

The 10 worst New Yorker longreads (Gawker)

“[A]pparently [Adam] Gopnik did not know you could bake fancy breads from France and other cultures. So he got his mom to teach him how to bake them. A fine anecdote, maybe, to tell a friend or a therapist. But in this case he wrote about it for the New Yorker, a magazine.”

Bloggingheads

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

  • If you like the magazine, get the rest of the year for just $19.95 (6 issues in all).
  • If not, simply write cancel on the bill and return it. You will owe nothing.

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.