Tuesday, October 21, 2014. Last Update: Tue 11:00 AM EST

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Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

Kicking the Can

Congress describes its take on an auto bailout

In late November, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told the Big Three automakers that they needed to devise a better financial... More

Missed Step

Using “set foot in” is a step in the right direction

Everyone has language pet peeves: those little things people say that aren’t quite right, and that we can’t help but... More

The Britishisms Are Coming!

Gobsmacked by the recent British slang invasion

“I am gobsmacked by these appointments, most of which could easily have come from a President McCain,” Max Boot, a... More

Healthy Usage

Here’s hoping that your Thanksgiving was a healthful one

Here’s hoping everyone ate only “healthy” foods at Thanksgiving. Many people, including those watching calories or wanting to be “healthy,”... More

Poisonous Coinage

Tracing the evolution of the term “toxic loan”

As the country tries to escape its economic doldrums, there’s been a lot of talk about how banks made “toxic... More

When Opposites Detract

Is “sanction” a contradictanym?

A country ignores the wishes of the United Nations and continues its human rights abuses. Its behavior is “sanctioned.” Meanwhile,... More

Our Historical Past

The presidential election was both “historical” and “historic”

Last week’s election was “historical.” It was also “historic.” As my predecessor Evan Jenkins explained here in 2004, “By hoary... More

Damning With Excessive Praise

“Fulsome” doesn’t mean what you think it means

Language is communication, but it works only if the communicators understand one other. If you think a word means one... More

When A Plus Is A Minus

The real meaning of the word “nonplussed”

Last week, some people who read here that “bemused” doesn’t mean “wryly amused” may have been “nonplussed.” “Nonplussed” is another... More

Bemusement Park

It’s not amusing when writers misuse “bemused”

Here’s the lede on one article about the final presidential candidates’ debate: “Calmly swatting away John McCain’s aggression in their... More

Rescuing the Bailout

Which word best describes the government’s response to the financial crisis?

Politics, especially in the few weeks before an election, is full of semantics, but this year seems particularly fraught. Take... More

Mass Appeal

Or, rather, “hoi polloi” appeal

In most of her speeches, and in her debate last week with Joe Biden, Sarah Palin seems to be speaking... More

Getting To The Top

A proper use for “crescendo”

“Daring project reaches a crescendo,” read a headline in the Albany Times-Union the other day. It struck a chord. Anyone... More

Where Have All The Commas Gone?

The joys of the parenthetical comma

(Voice of police dispatcher): “Calling all cars! Calling all cars! Be on the lookout for escaped commas. Last seen after... More

Not Without Regard

Is “irregardless” a word?

One problem with having so many dictionaries available is that they often don’t agree—on definitions, spellings or even whether something... More

Judgment Day

Are the Gitmo trials more of a star chamber or a kangaroo court?

The military trials planned for prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have been referred to as occurring in “a star chamber”... More

But It’s Alright

Alright may not be all wrong

It’s never all right to use “alright,” right? Let’s discuss, already. The Columbia Guide to Standard American English says it... More

Comma Suture

A little punctuation mark can hold things together, or rend them asunder

The selection of Senator Joe Biden to be Barack Obama’s running mate has revived the debate over a statement Biden... More

It’s Your Cull

Two different meanings for one little word

If you’re a poker player, when you “cull” the cards you have selected a bunch of good cards and arranged... More

When Loosing Is Winning

“Loosing” vs. “losing”

A lot of people seem to be loosing their minds lately, or at least their grips on their dictionaries. “Loosing... 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


I’m a black journalists quitting media because I’m sick of racism (TNR)

“Among the challenges that make racism so difficult to fix, and so odiously constant, is that white people often don’t even recognize when they’re saying or doing something that cuts their black colleagues to the bone”

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

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

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Questions and exercises for journalism students.