Thursday, July 24, 2014. Last Update: Thu 12:14 PM EST

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language corner

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… And so on

Explaining explanatory abbreviations

Today, we’re going to talk about what symbols, abbreviations, etc., to use when, i.e., you want to give a list... More

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‘They’ said so

Pronouns without sex

Whenever anyone who loves language wants to start a robust discussion, they have only to mention “gender-neutral pronouns,” such as... More

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‘Scare’ tactics

Quotes around single words

It's Journalism 101: go out and talk to people, then write down what they say. If you can't quote it... 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

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Apparently not

The trouble with the apparent heart attack

The American Heart Association says that heart attacks kill about 1,200 people in the United States every day. In many... 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

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

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Bell curves

Lots of “ring” words

“You must be a ringer,” the journalism instructor told the student, who insisted that, though he had many years of... More

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Between ‘us’ and ‘I’

Getting stuck on plurals

The editors were discussing a story about the health benefits of a particular type of cactus, and maybe others. The... More

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Blame excuses

Where to point the finger

"Deer Creek blames fire on science experiment," read one headline. "Arsonist blames fire on living conditions," said another. Some people... 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

Boing!

Springing to the past

Spring has sprung The grass is riz; I wonder where the birdies is. That little ditty, or variations of it,... More

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Brand extension

Why trademarks should be honored

Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City called for a ban on "Styrofoam" containers, saying in his State of the... 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

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Cardinal rules

A real ‘conclave’ is at hand

Betsy Wade was ecstatic. "At last!" she exclaimed. "For the next few weeks people will be using the word conclave... More

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Career advice

On the fast track to ‘careen’

Two accidents, two verbs: In New Jersey, “The car careened down the street and smashed into several parked cars before... 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

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Countdown

Help with numbers

Math is hard for many people, though it's often not the numbers that cause so many problems, but the words... More

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Covetous

The difference between ‘jealousy’ and ‘envy’

The pope gets to wear nice red shoes, and a friend said, "I'm really jealous of those!" But, technically, she... More

Degrees of Rejection

‘Refudiate’ may have a use after all

The “words of the year” lists are beginning to appear, and we’re generally going to ignore them, since those words... 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 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.”

Insufferable parenthetical asides, ranked (The Hairpin)

18. (strictly for the mise-en-scene)

You are now entering the demented kingdom of William T. Vollmann (TNR)

“Franzen tells a hilarious story of being a young writer in New York, meeting Vollmann, becoming fast friends, and inaugurating a draft swap. A while later, they exchanged work. Franzen gave Vollmann a dozen chiseled pages. Vollmann gave Franzen an entire novel.”

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.