Friday, December 19, 2014. Last Update: Fri 11:50 AM EST

Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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

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

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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