The ‘media’-as-a-singular-noun revolution rolls on!

Columbia Journalism Review
Merrill Perlman says I don’t need to feel like a tool. You see, last week, I proposed that our culture give up on the quest to keep media a plural noun. Perlman writes:

“Media” as a mass noun, taking a singular the way “furniture” does, has reached Stage 5 on the Language-Change Index, Bryan A. Garner’s Modern American Usage says, meaning it is completely proper English. Garner does note, however, that “that usage still makes some squeamish.”

In fact, Perlman has been working this seam long before I showed up with my hammer and pick. Back in 2009, she wrote a piece about the de-Latinization of English in which she bet that media-as-a-plural-noun was probably on the wrong side of history: “If we asked a bunch of ‘mediums’ to look into the future, chances are they would see a singular victory.”

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  • Anonymous

    Yes, Dan, but “datum” sounds so strange when one speaks it and even looks strange when writing it, even though it ist he correct word. Sometimes common usage dictates common usage. I also write and say data for both singular and plural. I am wrong, I know, but I am in good company, — same with always saying media and never medium except for the fortune telling “mediums” in Little Italy…… SMILE…..the only thing i care about now is lowercasing internet, anybody agree? Let’s Do It!

  • Dan Kennedy

    “Datum.” It’s a great, singular word.

  • Anonymous

    Media can be used both singular and plural. Singular for one specific media, like water color paintings. Or newspapers as news media. Plural for all the various mediums we use everyday, and also for the news media which is a collection of MANY newspapers and wire services and TV networks and even now the blogmedia and internet. Dan Kennedy is right. And what about DATA, plural or singular, Andrew? and the real 999 pound tiger in the room: lowercase internet or keep uppercasing Internet? Your POV, Andrew?

  • Dan Kennedy

    If we give in to “media” as singular, what shall we do with “medium”? Not only is it grammatically incorrect, but it plays into conspiracy theories that the media act monolithically.

  • Paul Steinle

    Ah yes, “media” singular or plural — a valid concern. But, how about this issue: why do we say “media,” when we mean “news media”?  Doesn’t “media” include billboards, movies, books, pamphlets, video games, etc. Why don’t we write what we mean?