Thursday, December 18, 2014. Last Update: Thu 1:20 PM EST

Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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

Houses of Straw

Flimsy votes and arguments

Though we’re thick in the primary and caucus season, the testing of the political winds actually began months ago, with... More

The Jury is in

On “jury-rigged” and “jerry-built” confusion

An article about a rundown neighborhood said that “most of the buildings are jerry-rigged structures of corrugated aluminum.” Another article... More

Confidence Trick

Scams ‘R’ Us

In an episode of Dragnet from the late nineteen-sixties, Joe Friday is assigned to the “bunco squad,” where he and... More

Intoxicating

Deriving ‘drink’

No one needs to be told that the present tense of the verb “to drink” is “drink.” But what about... More

And the Word of the Year Is…

Words that topped the lists

Lots of people and organizations have issued their “words of the year” lists. Whether some of the words they chose... More

Language, Free

Blogs for grammar geeks

In Miracle on 34th Street, Kris Kringle makes lots of friends—and money for Macy’s—by sending customers elsewhere when Macy’s did... More

Yule Love This

Making a list of holiday expressions

A couple of years ago we discussed some of abuse that poor, misused apostrophes suffer this time of year, in... More

Homegrown

The living language

To look back at the early years of the Columbia Journalism Review is to look at how we used... More

On, Dasher!

A punctuation mark loved too much—or not enough

Many punctuation marks have different uses—think of the comma—but only a few leap off the page to a reader’s eye—as... More

Friendly Fire

Insulting without meaning to

As language and society evolve, words that were once considered merely slang sometimes take on an offensive odor. In the... More

Separation Anxiety

Smoothing comparative phrases

Black Friday is coming! And this one will be as big as, if not more hyped and crowded than, Cyber... More

Taking the Fifth

A dictionary, updated, adds and subtracts

The Fifth Edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language is out, cause for celebration for some and... More

Conjunction-itis

What about ifs, ands, or buts?

Many generations of students have had certain grammar “truths” drilled into their little heads. One is the “myth” that infinitives... More

Taking Names in Vain

Why we care, for Pete’s sake

You’re with your five-year-old at the ice cream shop, and she can’t decide which of the dozens of flavors to... More

Fermenting Revolution

Some terms associated with beer

With “Oktoberfests” popping up all over, it seems a good time to grab a “growler” and get “krausened.” The first... More

Making Introductions

Putting the cart before the tumbrel

Writers frequently introduce a topic or unfamiliar phrase, then define it, as in “The condemned rode to the gallows in... More

No Use

The “d” is (usually) not optional

The Northeast has been experiencing a bit of a resurgent summer*, so cool refreshments have been called for. You have... 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

  • 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.