Yesterday’s nearly simultaneous reports on big changes in the respective careers of two very different newscasters, Brian Williams and Jon Stewart, reminds me that the word “media” is not a singular, no matter that most people use it that way.


Granted, this popular misuse of “media” as a singular has become so widespread that it’s now considered grammatically acceptable.


Well, it’s not acceptable to me. It’s a Latin word, and it’s plural.


As I’ve argued here on previous occasions, using “media” as a singular (“the media is….”) only invites the notion that the media are a monolith. They’re not. There are all kinds of media, many of which differ from one another in numerous respects.


And yet, even journalists whom I otherwise respect are often heard to use “media” as a singular. Their bosses should order them to be more careful about that.


Let’s consider, for example, the widespread complaint among political conservatives that the mainstream media are — or “is,” if you insist — liberal. That allegation is preposterous on its face. Fox News is part of the mainstream media. It’s the most popular of the three cable news outlets — and it’s decidedly not liberal. The same can be said of the Wall Street Journal, the most widely-read daily newspaper in America. The same can also be said of talk-radio on the whole, which generally leans far right.


Yes, I understand that certain Latin plurals have become singulars through popular usage. The word “data” comes to mind.


But “media” as a singular only feeds the unfortunate misimpression that the media are all alike, especially in terms of political slant. They’re not.


 

Yesterday’s nearly simultaneous reports on big changes in the respective careers of two very different newscasters, Brian Williams and Jon Stewart, reminds me that the word “media” is not a singular, no matter that most people use it that way.

Granted, this popular misuse of “media” as a singular has become so widespread that it’s now considered grammatically acceptable.

Well, it’s not acceptable to me. It’s a Latin word, and it’s plural.

As I’ve argued here on previous occasions, using “media” as a singular (“the media is….”) only invites the notion that the media are a monolith. They’re not. There are all kinds of media, many of which differ from one another in numerous respects.

And yet, even journalists whom I otherwise respect are often heard to use “media” as a singular. Their bosses should order them to be more careful about that.

Let’s consider, for example, the widespread complaint among political conservatives that the mainstream media are — or “is,” if you insist — liberal. That allegation is preposterous on its face. Fox News is part of the mainstream media. It’s the most popular of the three cable news outlets — and it’s decidedly not liberal. The same can be said of the Wall Street Journal, the most widely-read daily newspaper in America. The same can also be said of talk-radio on the whole, which generally leans far right.

Yes, I understand that certain Latin plurals have become singulars through popular usage. The word “data” comes to mind.

But “media” as a singular only feeds the unfortunate misimpression that the media are all alike, especially in terms of political slant. They’re not.