Media is

I’ve decided that media are is singular.

I came to that conclusion, unblogged, awhile ago because I saw the lines between media crumbling. I especially see this teaching journalism school. When I came into the business, we had to pick a medium for life (or at least until we went into PR). Now, every time a journalist does a story, she can and should pick from all appropriate media to tell it (and not just tell it, by the way). Today, still photographers shoot video with a still camera. Print reporters take pictures and make slide shows and shoot video. TV people write text. Magazine people make podcasts. And that was just the game of 52-card-pickup we began playing with old media. Now enter new media with data bases and animation and interactivity. What is Twitter? A medium? A conversation? Both? Yes. So how does one separate one medium from another? It’s impossible, I came to see.

Then On the Media called asking whether I fell into the media as plural or singular camp. Funny you should ask, I said. I was plural, now I’m singular.

Now Brooke Gladstone took this question from another angle as well: media as monolith. We complain about The Media. But I argued that media are is no longer monolithic thanks to the internet, because scarcity is dead, because the dinosaurs are consolidating only to hide from the cold wind of the future, because consolidation is thus no longer a threat, and because we can all make media. We are all media. We are the message.

So here’s the On the Media conversation. They don’t agree with me. But that’s fine.

  • So we is the media?

    I is media?

    I loved this – great point and cunning use of strikeouts.

    I’m reading,

    Matthew Pearson

  • We have met the media and they is us.

  • Then we are all entitled to the special rights granted members of media; where’s my press pass?

  • [feel free to respond to my thoughts or ignore them, but here are the things running through my head at the moment as I ponder how I will pay the rent.]

    …but the dinosaurs still take home nice paychecks while “we” scrounge to survive.

    I can’t count on two hands any social media people that 1. don’t have a day job that subsidizes them or 2. who didn’t leverage their past dinosaur media cred to spin off into the “we” mediascape.

    …when does the “we” media pay the bills?

    …must “we” survive an ice age first that kills off the dinosaurs once and for all?

    Gathering scrapes in Ireland,


  • Eric Gauvin

    …and “it” didn’t even mention your book!

  • Walter Abbott


    Good column. The “media” is and was always an information distribution system, not a producer of a product. Everyday folks are quite capable of managing information distribution on their own, now that the tools are widely available to do it.

    “News” as historically defined was only able to command a value because of the monopoly status of the broadcast systems that controlled its distribution – newspapers, radio, television. They got to say when, where and how it was dispensed.

    That monopoly is gone forever and anyone who can’t see it is too stupid to be in the “news” business.

  • Too bad I, Me, Mine Media, Inc. don’t pay no better wages. Wage?

  • Robert,
    These days, what you get instead is a pink slip.

  • Tyler

    Fortunately or unfortunately, the singular media relies more and more on free labor to produce the dinosaur food that is money. The new singular media allows “we” to create content, and enough of “us” are willing to do this without needing any reimbursement other than attention. Hits, comments, and the chance at a “voice” are the new wages in the singular media.

  • “When I came into the business, we had to pick a medium for life (or at least until we went into PR).” Are you implying that (sometimes) multi-disciplined PR people may have something to teach journalists?

  • Totally agree with media as a singular concept. No matter where you are coming from, you are now digits, often changeable (like energy) from video to just audio, from audio to text, from text to audio…

    IT convergence also means media convergence.

  • Max,
    i believe you forgot the “heh.”

  • John S

    We are I and I is us and we are all together.
    Soon media is a freelance profession and everybody’s a journalist/multi-media specialist and we can all make our own press passes. Who gives those out, anyway?
    -Wondering in Minnesota, where the Star Tribune is on borrowed time.

  • Jerry Courtney

    Regarding the comments on monetizing this new media in which we troll, seems there is no better time than the present – this exact present which is trying in terms of monetizing anything – to figure it out. Necessity is the mother of invention.

    Great piece, Jeff.

  • Need a press pass? Try Office Depot. They have these great little pouches you can sling around your neck that, once you print-up whatever strikes your fancy in the way of credentials, look tres official. Just add a few CNN, ABC, etc. lariats to your neckline and you can get into the freakin’ Pentagon. It’s all DIY, hon. Look busy.

    Come to think about it, I need to give Bernie Marcus a call and see about adding a DIY Media chain to his mix of stores… now that Nardeli’s safely out of Home Depot and annoying the heck out of Chrysler instead.

    Would love to explore the product mix for this concept of stores… everything from fancy lariats to that jazzy cam Jarvis just linked all our enquirering minds to.

    I mean, if you can go into any Pet Smart and type out a tag for your dog for a few bucks from a vending machine, why can’t we just go into The DIY Media Store and crank ourselves out a press pass when we need one?

  • Oh, how I love semantics! Thanks for sharing this Jeff.

    And I agree with you, media most certainly “is” [converging]
    as we continue to approach Panoptic Singularity..

    Sousveillance any one?

  • Warren Harrison

    So the media is defined as that which is associated with journalism?
    Very narrow…


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  • Alan

    Forgive me for being pedantic, but I’m a sub and it goes with the territory…
    I see the point you’re making, but “The Media” has always been singular in effect by being a collective term. That’s why we use it like a singular.
    Channels, on the other hand, are, and increasingly are becoming, more plural – look at how audiences are fragmenting to the many new ones. And not all channels are the same. Is radio really the same as the internet? Are paper the same as Twitter?
    Sure we is the Media, but we is using many channels.

  • But television is singular though it has many channels and forms, eh?

  • Alan

    Sorry Jeff I was using “channels” in the marketing sense – different mediums of communication i.e. TV, radio, the Web, cinema etc.
    Also, I don’t think it makes sense to talk of the media as a singular because they are so diverse and often act in different ways – not as one or even in a simialr way.
    I doubt you can even talk about the Press as if they act as like one body and certainly not websites. Does it really make sense to say something like “The Web is for/against Obama”?
    Statements like “The media is powerful in influencing opinion” are defensible but not all “media is” statements are.

  • Eric Gauvin

    Some grammar trivia, “news” is derived from the plural, as it still is in French, “les nouvelles”.

    I guess “the news” really means something like “the things that are new.” So theoretically perhaps at one time we could speak of just one “new.”

  • Data is, too.

  • The lines have definitely crumbled a lot and more to come. Video online, news online, apple tv, and newspapers slowly going out of business do to the amount of free information online and on tv.

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  • If you say media… it is broad.. you cannot put it in one word..,the process of it and how it is is in the eye of the beholder also..

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