Friday, August 01, 2014. Last Update: Fri 4:08 PM EST

Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

None of the Above

Plural or singular? Yes.

How many of you were taught that “none” stands for “no one,” and must always take a singular verb? Bet... More

Bodily Functions

The scent of a language

The scene may have been a long coach ride or a London park bench on a hot day, but the... More

Talking Back

‘Revert’ gains a new meaning

The recruiter was pleased that the law firm was interested in one of his clients. “I will revert with candidate... More

Against Semantic Satiation

Some new words to learn after a wild week

After a week in which the East suffered through earthquakes and a hurricane, we could all use a little entertainment.... More

Going Strait

Narrowing down the difference between “strait” and “straight”

When two words sound the same and have similar meanings, you know they’re going to merge eventually. But until they... More

Oral History

Of spoken and written words

It’s a crazy market, the investors were told by the columnist, and they had to protect themselves. So they shouldn’t... More

One Word or Two?

An altogether random list to use every day

English insists on having variations of words, like “every day/everyday” or “any time/any time,” where two words are scrunched together... More

Really?

Literally speaking

Here’s a cover letter cited in a column about what not to write when applying for a job: “I am... More

The Personals

When to use ‘who’ and ‘that’

“We’re the people that are going to say, ‘No,’ to Washington, D.C., taxing and spending,” U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX),... More

Lone Modifications

Adjectives may agitate

Adjectives play many roles. They can tell us which box on the gift table is being discussed—the “blue” box—so we... More

Irony Patch

It’s not a coincidence

It’s “ironic” that many journalists don’t understand when to correctly use “irony.” Here’s an example of how “irony” frequently appears... More

Quotus Interruptus

‘What … did (he) say?’

For weeks before Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees reached 3,000 career hits, he had been saying he didn’t... More

Almost Famous

Confusion over “infamy” and “notoriety” abounds

You probably don’t want to become “infamous.” but you may want to be “notorious.” The adjective “infamous” has traditionally meant... More

Gonna Wanna

When dialects collide

Writing the way people speak is one way to make sure your copy doesn’t become bloviated or stodgy. But journalists... More

Fraught Fest

Can something be ‘fraught’ without ‘with’?

Kirk Arnott, a retired assistant managing editor of the Columbus Dispatch who keeps his hand sharp with part-time copyediting there,... More

Title Search

Descriptions that deserve respect, or not

We love to modify things, to make them as descriptive or as recognizable as possible. It’s not just a house,... More

Call Me ‘Al’

Another confusing suffix

Is an appliance “electric” or “electrical”? Is Sarah Palin visiting “historic” sites or “historical” sites? Is being “politic” the same... More

Appositive Negatives

Some things are not unique

Last week, we talked about setting a parenthetical description off with commas in the grammatical phenomenon known as an “appositive.”... More

Negative Appositives

Phrases set off by commas

Commas are wonderful tools. They tell a reader to pause, as this one did. They can also tell a reader... More

Name-Calling

Why descriptions are better than labels

Arnold Schwarzenegger had sex with a woman who was not his wife, and that woman gave birth to their child.... 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

Journalists subpoenaed in ‘pink-slime’ suit - BPI wants emails from NYT’s Michael Moss, public-health lawyer Michele Simon, and others

Bloomberg struggles to break out of the box - Justin Smith’s ambitious digital transformation hits some bumps

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

Embedded with the Koch brothers - Hometown reporters get rare access to the media-shy oilmen, with mixed results


James Fallows on David Frum’s asserted, then retracted, charge the NYT ran fake photos of Gaza

“For all their blind spots and flaws, reporters on the scene are trying to see, so they can tell, and the photographic and video reporters take greater risks than all the rest, since they must be closer to the action. For people on the other side of the world to casually assert that they’re just making things up—this could and would drive them crazy.”

The 60-second interview: Marty Baron (Capital New York)

CAPITAL: I just noticed that the most-read story right now on your website is an aggregated piece about a Russian lizard sex station in space. BARON: [Laughs] Is that right?

Your iPhone can now make free encrypted calls (Wired)

The beginning of the end of burner phones?

The new face of Richard Norris (GQ)

“‘Richard?’ I say. ‘Richard?’ I shove his shoulder and nothing happens. He is dead. He is on my watch and he is dead. I hear gurgling. Breathing. He’s on my watch and he is not dead.”

Bloggingheads

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

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A report from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

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