Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Plural of Medium is Media

I received a résumé the other day in which the person listed that they have worked in a variety of “mediums”.  That, to me, is like chalk on a blackboard.

The singular of media is medium.  Newspaper, television, digital, radio and out-of- home, are, collectively, media.  That is why the department was/is called the media department.  Each of those means of communication is a medium.  It pains me when I hear people in our industry talking about working in different mediums.

A few years ago I had an exchange of letters with one of the prominent art magazines when they wrote that a collage hanging in someone’s home was made of mixed mediums.  The editor justified it as now common usage.  However, About.com has a nice description of common usage.  I Googled "medium vs media" and several web sites confirmed what I am writing.  I did see one site which said that in advertising the two words were sometimes used interchangeably. Not not in my business or in my dictionary and clearly written by someone who never worked in a media department. In fact,  I have never heard about the mediums department.

I would hate to see someone not get a job because they used the terms medias or mediums in their resume.  While Latin is no longer taught (I took a semester in the eighth grade, but hated it and dropped out in favor of French, thank goodness), I think everyone should know the difference.

Enough said.


  1. "...they wrote that a collage hanging in someone’s home was made of mixed mediums."

    Oh Paul, you're such a nag. The author is perfectly correct as she undoubtedly wished to describe a collage made up of individuals held to be a channel of communication between the earthly world and a world of spirits.

    Regards -- Livy Miller

  2. How about the esoteric use of the word medium? I've often wondered if one person is a medium and several are media. I think that may be the only exception to the rule.

  3. Elli: I looked it up. A medium who tells fortunes is different. Several of them are actually mediums.

  4. I would just like to acknowledge the dozens of comments received directly on my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. Wow! This created a lot of buzz and obviously hit a nerve. Thanks, all.

  5. Paul, I am so glad you brought this up. Hearing agency people say "mediums," especially in the presence of clients, makes me shudder.

    While we're at it, we should also call attention to those who say "flush out" instead of "flesh out." Unbelievable.

    Thanks for another great blog.

  6. Thank you. This is, perhaps second to litter among my pet peeves. "I'll have two mediums and one large, thank you." It makes me nuts.

    As an aside... Like you, I opted for 4 years of French in high school, but unfortunately all I know how to say is "Que pasa?"


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