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What is media? Definition and meaning

The term media, which is the plural of medium, refers to the communication channels through which we disseminate news, music, movies, education, promotional messages and other data. It includes physical and online newspapers and magazines, television, radio, billboards, telephone, the Internet, fax and billboards

It describes the various ways through which we communicate in society. Because it refers to all means of communication, everything ranging from a telephone call to the evening news on television can be called media.

When talking about reaching a very large number of people we say mass media. Local media refers to, for example, your local newspaper, or local/regional TV/radio channels.

Different types of media

Media can be broken down into two main categories: broadcast and print. The Internet has also emerged as a major player, as a rapidly-growing number of people globally get their news, movies, etc. online.

Print Media includes all types of publications, including newspapers, journals, magazines, books and reports. It is the oldest type, and despite suffering since the emergence of the Internet, is still used by a major proportion of the population.

Media ‘is’ or ‘are’?

If media is the plural of medium, then one would think that it should be used grammatically in the plural – the verb that follows it should be in the plural form, shouldn’t it?

However, in most literature it is used as a singular noun, and is interpreted as a collective singular, similar to other collective nouns such as ‘team’ or ‘group’. Therefore, to write the ‘media is’ is perfectly acceptable today. Some people may insist it is wrong, but it is still acceptable – languages are constantly evolving.

It all started thousands of years ago

Human communication through designed channels – not through speech or gestures – dates back to many tens of thousands of years ago when our ancient ancestors painted on the walls of caves. The cave paintings at Lascaux in southwestern France, estimated to be over 17,000 years old, are no less viable expressions of media than our current TV shows and magazines.