Media? Mediums?

A short grammar and style lesson for this morning.

Pat, my Web guru, caught something, as she often does, in the Art Marketing Action newsletter this week. It was a question as to whether “the media” should be treated as singular or plural.

I found a case for either in the Chicago Manual of Style, which is my preference for style questions:

“. . . in a collective sense, it may take either a singular or a plural verb form. A singular verb emphasized the group; a plural verb emphasizes the individual members.” It goes on to say that it’s most important that it’s consistent.

group emphasis: “the ruling majority is unlikely to share power”
individual members: “the majority of voters are satisfied”

We went with this for the newsletter: “The media need stories,” which emphasizes the individual members of the media.

Mixed Media? Mixed Mediums?
Then, of course, there is this issue: What does an artist use on a label when a number of different materials and/or techniques are used in the creation of an artwork? “Mixed media” is the usual term, but I’ve also seen “Mixed Mediums.” I actually prefer the latter since media has come to be associated with the press and technology. I guess the only safe way out of this is to list everything and avoid “MM” altogether.

[ By the way, that cool Chicago Manual of Style site also recommends "Web site" instead of "website" for formal writing. I had only recently changed to the latter as it seems to be much more prevalent. It's hard to unlearn and then re-learn something! ]

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5 comments to Media? Mediums?

  • Today’s newsletter contains a subtle contradiction…Advertise in a smaller newspaper to help with getting press – but, remember, giving gifts is ethically unsound and may violate reporter’s morals contract…slightly different actions, but, if the spirit of the concept , of giving to a paper (sorry for the long sentence), is that it is similar to a bribe, then, advertising for the sake of getting free positive press should by association, be slightly unethical also, no? This is why major institutions don’t usually accept donations from the artist themselves…(I have in the past spent a significant amount to advertise in our local paper- didn’t know about the moral clause until today, and will be more circumspect in the future…)thanks

  • Walter Hawn

    Coupla comments here: One — media are plural. Unless it is singular. ‘Media,’ when referring to the conglomerate info-machine, is singular. ‘Media,’ when refering to sub-strates, are plural. Individual members of the ‘the Media’ are singular members of the singular group. Thus, “The media needs copy,” and, “The writers need copy.” Unless you are in England, wherein any singular group is plural, e.g., “the team are fast.” Secondly, in reference to the newsletter this week: For the most part, you got real good information. I would suggest, though, using *both* e-mail and regular paper. It’s danged hard to spike an email. Paper on a spike gets looked at at least twice, while an email may only get it once before it’s deleted and gone forever. Plus, the paper re-enforces the email. Here’s a secret we in the media like to keep to ourselves: Sometimes, We Are Desparate For Copy! When we are, we look to our spike (mine’s actually a desk tray, but you get the idea) for inspiration. It contains items that might be worthwhile, but didn’t quite pass muster on an earlier day. A worthwhile item ALWAYS contains good contact information, a compelling reason for follow-up and some (not a lot) of decent background. 100 words of copy is enough. Single spaced is fine. Don’t get cute, with words or formatting. ONE PAGE! Bald, straightforward, declarative sentences work wonders. Bullet points after the opening sentence are good. A good, strong headline is fabulous. A website address is wonderful. An email address is good. The phone number is essential. An answering machine keeps you alive, briefly. If you get a Message From the Media, call back. Immediately. I NEED copy. I need it now. If you ain’t there, I’m already gone. Walter Hawn KTWO Radio News 150 Nichols Avenue Casper, Wyoming 82609 (307)266-5252

  • This is a challenging issue and Alyson and I each researched several sources to try to determine which version of “The media need(s) stories” is correct. I appreciate Walter’s comments and they spurred me on to the Associated Press Stylebook where I found “in the sense of mass communication, such as magazines, newspapers… the word is plural: (example) The news media are resisting attempts to limit their freedom.” This seems in sync with Alyson’s text “The media (newspapers, magazines, radio stations) need stories.” Very interesting discussion and how wonderful that talking about correct word usage is still important!

  • Mediums/Media? I suspect you choose the one with the appropriate allusions in your own head; ‘mediums’, I associate with people trying to contact the spirit world. Or is that just me…and if so, what *does* it say about me!!

  • I’m late getting back, here, but I’m constrained to say — as usual — the AP stylebook is flat WRONG. [I write thus as a person who, for over thirty years of professional writing, held sancrosact the thought that media are always plural, and medium is singular beyond reproach.] AP is *always* ten years or more behind correct (ahem) media usage. And (an aside here) anyone who actually follows the AP stylebook will produce flat, dull, tasteless, and unchewable copy. The AP, itself, at the national level, does not adhere to its own stylebook (except for the mechanical sorts of things). It was compiled, I’m certain, so J-skul grads can be forced to have at least a nodding aquaintance with the language. Or, perhaps, so their editors can pass the buck to the book when correcting the sometimes awful stuff they have to read. “Enough!” I cry. It is my heart’s desire to abandon this shriveling life of finger-cramped word-smithery! Stop me! Allow me to write no more! (Or only to my own direction; vis., one must write one’s own publicity, I glumly admit.) Walter Hawn KTWO Radio News 150 N. Nichols AVe. Casper, Wyoming 82601 (307) 266-5252