Saturday, August 30, 2014. Last Update: Fri 2:45 PM EST

Language Corner

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Fun with mnemonics

If you’ve been writing ‘pneumonic,’ you’ve got it all wrong

A friend wrote that she had a great way of remembering a complicated topic. "I created a pneumonic device," she... More

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Why words have multiple acceptable spellings

More on the new edition of Webster’s New World College Dictionary

Last week, we talked about the new, fifth edition of Webster's New World College Dictionary, and some things in it... More

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Webster’s new dictionary means change for journalists

Internet is still capitalized

Webster's New World College Dictionary has a fifth edition. Big whoop, you say. But this is not just any dictionary:... More

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The history of using ‘quantum’ to mean ‘really big’

It’s best to avoid using just plain “quantum” to mean “huge”—especially if addressing a physicist

Verizon offers "Even faster FiOS Quantum Internet" speeds. Duracell has a new Quantum alkaline battery. James Bond had his Quantum... More

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Your head will spin: Uses of ‘naught,’ ‘aught,’ and ‘ought’

Time to start writing some tongue-twisters

If someone says "I know aught about football," the amount of knowledge could be a lot or nothing. That's because... More

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Gotcha!

Get, got, and gotten

A software program that acts as a super spelling checker often stops on the word "got," and asks, in effect,... More

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Wanton behavior

The difference between “want” and “wont”

In the 1700s, Garner's Modern American Usage says, Samuel Johnson declared an end to "wont." But, Garner's continues, "it hangs... More

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Measuring up

Uses of “gauge”

The word “gauge” plays several roles. It both measures something and is the measure of something. A speedometer, for example,... More

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Striking redundant expressions

Why use two words when one would do?

"Write tighter" is a plea most journalists have heard, probably more than once. One way to do so is to... More

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Old rivalries, old words

The reappearance of “caliphate” and “the Levant”

From a language point of view, what's happening in Iraq, Syria, and environs has revived words that have not been... More

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How to tell if you’re using ‘irony’ or ‘sarcasm’

It’s a fine line

A father and daughter were deep in discussion over breakfast at a diner. "That's not irony, that's sarcasm," the father... More

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‘Civil’ versus ‘sectarian’ conflicts

How to pick the most accurate war word

Iraq is now faced with an escalation of "sectarian violence," and Syria is still ensnared in its "civil war." Those... More

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Accentuate the positive

When to use diacritics

English has no accents, formally known as diacritical marks, or diacritics. But many words that arrived from other languages do... More

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Words associated with weddings

Inspiration hat-tip to Kim and Kanye

The recent wedding of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West presents an opportunity to discuss the snarky "announcement" that ran in... More

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Squirreling away the eggcorns

A collection of misleading phrases

We've discussed "eggcorns," phrases so tantalizingly close to idioms or common expressions that they actually make some sense, twisted though... More

Apple can’t hide from a 20-year-old reporter - The University of Michigan student gets behind the tech titan’s newest products

Al Jazeera America struggles to get off the margins - A quality-first strategy faces huge hurdles

Finding James Foley - This 2013 story takes a look at GlobalPost’s search for the photojournalist

Gannett cribs from Advance Publications playbook for struggling newspapers - Staff compete for fewer jobs; ‘readers become the assignment editor’

Cop corruption probe sparks newspaper feud - A spiked story is at the center of a bitter fight between Philadelphia’s two dailies


The impact of watching executions (PSmag)

“[E]xecutions, even for people who support capital punishment, and even when the criminals being put to death evoke little personal sympathy because of the nature of their crimes, take a toll on witnesses”

Times of India demands employee social media passwords (Quartz)

The company will possess log-in information and will be free to post any material to the account without journalists’ knowledge

Reconnecting with a story source, 17 years later (Hartford Courant)

“People who say reporters exploit people? You are right, we do. We parachute into people’s lives, sidle up, convince them that we care — and then disengage when the story is over. But that doesn’t mean we don’t connect, in a genuine way.”

The McDonald’s in Ferguson (LAT)

“Lately, the restaurant has taken on the appearance of a battered frontier outpost”

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.