Friday, July 3, 2009

I Guess I Didn't Get the Memo (with late addendum)

An LA Times story today reports:

Two senior Los Angeles Times editors were given new responsibilities Thursday as part of an effort to create a 24-hour newsroom serving multiple mediums.

Now, back in my day, starry-eyed wannabe wordsmiths were taught that the the plural of "medium" is "media." Yes, we knew, dictionaries grudgingly allowed "mediums" as a plural, but only because the ignoramuses were gaining influence.

But in an LA Times article about LA Times editors, such an egregious mistake seemed improbable. So I went to the LA Times' fall-back dictionary, Webster's New World College Dictionary, which says that "mediums" is preferred to "media."

American Heritage and prefer "media" but allow "mediums." Merriam-Webster online, like Webster's NW, actually prefers "mediums."


Here's the Webster's New World definition, which does seem to suggest that the Times should have opted for "media":

medium definition me·dium (mē′dē əm)
noun pl. mediums -·di·ums or media -·dia (-ə)
1. a. something intermediate; b. a middle state or degree, mean
2. an intervening thing through which a force acts or an effect is produced copper is a good medium for conducting heat
3. pl. media. any means, agency, or instrumentality; specif., a means of communication that reaches the general public and carries advertising: in this specif. sense, a singular form media (pl. medias) is now often used
4.any surrounding or pervading substance in which bodies exist or move
6.a sterilized nutritive mixture, as enriched agar, for cultivating bacteria, viruses, etc.
7. pl. mediums. a person through whom communications are thought to be sent to the living from spirits of the dead
8. any material or technique as used for expression or delineation in art9.a liquid mixed with pigments to give smoothness
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