Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Media and Medium

Media vs Medium

There’s an ongoing confusion in deciphering the definitions of the terms “media” and “medium” as both can mean some other things besides the fact that the former is basically the plural form of the latter.

The most common definition of a medium is something through which one will get information or data like the TV, printed materials, radio, and the World Wide Web. To be more specific, a medium is a concrete example of a TV channel like ABC, or a specific magazine like “Playboy” and many more. If taken altogether, however, as one general matter, then they can be regarded as the “media” which is the plural form. Hence, when you hear someone using the term “media” in this context, then he or she is referring to any or all of these sources of information.

When using “media” in a sentence, it is traditionally expected to be followed by a plural verb form like “The media are gathering at the…” However, today, it has already been widely accepted that “media” is, in fact, a collective plural noun that can either be treated as singular or plural when used with subject-verb agreements. Thus, it is normal to read or hear someone saying “The media is gathering at the…”

A medium can also be a noun which refers to a certain go-between guy such as, but not limited to, a psychic who becomes the medium in understanding strange, supernatural phenomena happening within a household. In the same sense, this medium can also be anything from air to water like in the case of sound which travels across water and air mediums. As you can see, the plural of “medium” in this example is appropriately stated as “mediums” rather than “media” because the latter will mean a completely different thing.

In biology, media can either pertain to the liquid or solid substance in which bacteria and other microorganisms can be grown or cultured for analysis and scientific observation, or it can also pertain to the central (middle) part of a biologic structure like the media of the ear.

Summary:

1.A medium is any specific source or channel to which information or data can be obtained.
2.“Media” is the collective, plural noun form of many different mediums.
3.“Medium” can also be a person who acts as a go-between guy or intermediary like a spiritual or psychic medium, for example.
4.“Medium” can also be any space to which something passes through like the air and water mediums through which sound can travel.
5.In science, “media” is the central part of a vessel, tissue layer, or organ, and it can also refer to a substance where bacteria are cultured.


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2 Comments

  1. This does not take into consideration what medium means in art. An art medium is the material an artist uses such as charcoal, paint, clay, wood, video, digital processes, etc. Within the art world, it is sometimes difficult to know when to use the term mediums or media as “media” has often become synonymous only with photo/digital processes (video art, computer art, etc) and medium with more traditional processes (pen and ink medium). The problem comes when artists works encompass both mediums and media. If you only use the word multi-media artist it makes you sound like a digital artist, instead of perhaps someone who draws, does performance, has sound in their installations, and paints, while also having made a printed matter bookwork or print series. Could someone address this use of art mediums and media a little more specifically?

  2. @Isis

    You are correct, and thank you for bringing this up. I am an artist who uses paint (acrylic and oil), plaster, video and found objects in my work. I choose to use the term interdisciplinary artist, for this appropriately allows me to define myself in a way that helps others, especially non artists, understand why I do what I do.

    Medium is singular, whereas, media is plural. One may say, “I work with a variety of mediums.” Or, defining oneself as, “I am a multi-media is artist” is appropriate…maybe immediately followed by, “…who works in both clay and oil painting.”

    Hope this helps!

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