Monday, July 28, 2014. Last Update: Mon 10:00 AM EST

Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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Empty pockets

A phrase with several meanings

Max Crittenden posted on Language Corner’s Facebook page: I’m seeing some peculiar usage (misuse, to my mind) of the phrase... More

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Language Corner

Basis Points

“On a case-by-case basis.” “On a regular basis.” “On an urgent basis.” Each of those base expressions, from The Associated... More

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That’s that, part two

Keeping a reader on the right path

Last week we talked about the use of “that” after a verb of speech, like “said,” “acknowledged,” etc. This week,... More

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That’s that, part one

A word used too often, or not enough

“President Obama said Wednesday he would go to Europe.” Is Wednesday the day he is going to Europe? Or the... More

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Logue jam

A catalog of dialogues

“Catalogue” can also be spelled “catalog.” “Dialogue” can also be spelled “dialog.” But “monologue” is rarely spelled “monolog.” The Americans... More

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No fun

Noun? Verb? Yes. Adjective? Well …

The journalism professor was not having much “fun” explaining things to her feature-writing students: “I know so fun is wrong... More

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Organically Grown

The DNA of new words

Language evolves. New words and concepts show up and catch on—“app,” “smartphone,” “podcast”—or die from disuse or dysfunction—“Y2K,” “newsreel,” “rad.”... More

Climate Change

Weathering a climax

An extension of a federal highway program passed the House recently, over the objections of some Democrats. “Even as they... More

Viva La Difference

Comparatively speaking

Am I “different than” you? Or “different from ” you? And does it matter? “Different than is often considered inferior... More

Locution, Locution, Locution

Fewer words take up less real estate

The Internet offers writers unlimited space and so, for many, their writing expands expansively. Readers, however, have limited attention spans.... More

Flat Out

Writers are “prone” to use the more familiar word

The gunman was “lying prone on his stomach.” He could have just been “prone,” and the writer could have saved... More

Not Just Desserts

How “junket” became a bad word

The good times were back on Wall Street, the news report said. Executives of a banking firm were staying at... More

Madison Square Gardening

Time to plant some “seeds”

It’s spring, and a young man’s fancy turns to … seeds. “Seeding” is a way of creating a tournament “draw”... More

Beggars Can Be Choosers

Questioning the questions

Every so often it’s important to revisit an issue, to clarify or modify it, depending on the circumstances. It “begs... More

Jibe Talking

Confusion over jibe, jive, gibe, and gybe

“Alas, poore Yorick,” Shakespeare wrote. “Where be your gibes now?” Or, depending on your edition of Hamlet, perhaps he wrote... More

@#?

How to quote e-mail, tweets, and such

BREAKING: Palm Beach Sheriffs Office tells @SusanCandiotti that the bomb squad is investigating a suspicious pkg near #Rush #Limbaugh home... More

Media Rare

Revisiting singular versus plural

Last week, a post at the Poynter Institute took a strong stand: “It’s time for copy editors to loosen the... More

Cardinal Sins

First or middle name?

In ceremonies filled with pomp, twenty-two men were named cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church, including two from the United... More

Silent Knight

What a difference a letter makes

For The Electric Company, Tom Lehrer wrote a song to which all writers should listen: Who can turn a can... More

Addressee Unknown

Another comma goes AWOL

The Super Bowl is over, thank heavens, so all those incorrectly punctuated signs rooting for one team or another can... 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


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

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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.