Allein Moore

When I got a report heading that said Leo Burnett had been appointed to handle media classification drive, I naturally was interested. But as I read on, it turned out to be about film and games classification.

The term ‘media’ seems to be used in Singapore as if it is synonymous with film.

Yet ‘media’ actually applies to public forms of communication. Posters on a bus shelter, a radio station, the Internet, magazines, newspapers television channels, point of sale pieces – these are all media.

I get irritated by the constant misuse of the word ‘media’. The German-based IFRA organisation which represents the printing industry runs an award restricted to newspapers and magazines called Asia Media Awards. Can one enter a TV commercial? Of course not.

The Media Development Authority of Singapore we hope represents all media even though it grew out of the Singapore Film Commission and is involved in film classification.

We do have the Singapore Media Awards run by the 4As which genuinely honours media buying agencies. At least the ad agency association proves it knows what media is!

There is a Hong Kong trade magazine called Media & Marketing which covers all media news which seems fair enough and MediaCorp’s Media Academy is teaching scriptwriting presumably across radio as well as television. As MediaCorp publishes quite a number of magazines and a newspaper, let’s hope the print media will be covered in forthcoming courses.

This is just a plea, that we all remember that television is broadcasting, radio is broadcasting, posters are outdoor advertising sites and advertisements in The Straits Times are print communications. PR is not a media but a discipline within the communications industry.

Animation is not a media but a film technology which can be created by flat drawings, clay figures or computer-generated images.

For once and for all, let us call a spade a spade. The Oxford English Dictionary says: Media is the means by which the communications is carried, be it an ad or a news report. Newspapers, magazines, television channels, radio stations, bus shelter posters, digital sites – they are all media.

If we say ‘media’, we mean all these.

We can say print media when we mean newspapers. However, we cannot call a feature film a media. It is an entertainment channel.

One can speak of the medium of film (that sprocketed celluloid-like reel of frames) as we can talk about a painter using the medium of oils and canvas.

So please if you are copywriter, a journalist or someone setting up a communications school of some kind or an event manager organising a seminar, please do be careful about the use of the word ‘media’ before your English teacher turns up to slap you with a ruler.

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