Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Grammar Question: Media, Singular or Plural

I'm usually a rather conservative and fanatic stickler when it comes to grammar. That's in my native English and the Hebrew I've been struggling to learn for close to half a century.  When slang is based on incorrect usage I boycott it.

It takes all of my self-control to keep from visibly cringing when someone replies "I'm (feeling) good"  to the question "how are you?"  Good is an adjective.  To describe yourself as "good," means that you're stating that you're a "good" person, honest etc. The proper grammatical answer is "I'm (feeling) well."  Well is an adverb and describes how you're feeling.

Recently someone who reads my articles asked me to correct the verb in a sentence with the word "media."  I used the word, and use  it frequently, as a collective noun, so the verb (present tense) was singular.  He suggested that it be plural. I'm usually very grateful when people catch my typos, but I see/used the word media to represent a group.  In Israel, it's very common to write about the media as one power.
The Israeli media has an agenda and isn't embarrassed to push it.
By writing in this way about the media, the implication is that the various Israeli media are in cahoots. It's the use of the word "various" to describe media makes it necessary to use the plural verb afterwards.

Just to be safe, I checked with Professor Google.
noun: media; plural noun: media; noun: the media
  1. 1.
    the main means of mass communication (television, radio, and newspapers) regarded collectively.
    "their demands were publicized by the media"
  2. 2.
    plural form of medium.

Here's another definition, Business dictionary:
1. Communication channels through which news, entertainment, educationdata, or promotional messages are disseminated. Media includes every broadcasting and narrowcasting medium such as newspapersmagazines, TV, radio, billboardsdirect mailtelephone, fax, and internet. Media is the plural of medium and can take a plural or singular verb, depending on the sense intended.
Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/media.html#ixzz2iOUB50ah
What do you think?  I'm curious.


Julie said...

As a professional Hebrew-English translator, I often look to the New York Times for guidance on style and grammar (for guidance on issues related to Israel, I look elsewhere).

Regarding "media," the NYT's stylebook "continues to insist on “media” as plural [...] though it is used more and more as a singular elsewhere." -- per this article on grammatical "hobgoblins" -- http://afterdeadline.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/24/hobgoblins/?_r=0 .

So the NYT acknowledges changing usage but regards media-as-plural to be stylistically preferable.

Just one perspective, of course.

sheldan said...

In this context, media (as a group) can be singular and media (as individuals) can be plural. We could also talk about one medium.

In my opinion, using media as a singular noun is probably valid.

Lorri M. said...

Having a degree in English, I see using the word media in a plural aspect as totally acceptable.

In my opinion, it can be used either way.

Batya said...

Julie, Sheldan, Lorri, thanks for your input. I appreciate it. Language is fluid, changing, and I guess the word "media" has changed, too.

Obat Wasir Untuk Ibu Hamil said...

Thank's for your informatin and
very nice youe post ^___^

Anonymous said...

Sorry for my English (so far, I was born in Paris, France...) but here is your answer: Media is the plural form of Medium (in latin language): 1 medium, many media !! Btw, I really enjot reading both your blogs ! keep on writing for us, thanks !

Batya said...

a, thanks
Modern English, as you can see in the dictionaries, do recognize a singular usage of "media" in a collective term/noun. Singular or plural depends on context.
The fish is swimming.
The fish are swimming.
Both are correct. It depends on how many fish in the tank.