Communication medium definition

Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980), Canadian philosopher of communication theory. (Ulf Andersen/Getty Images)


(2) The means of transmitting information between a speaker or writer (the ) and an audience (the ). Plural: media.

See Examples and Observations, below. Also see:

From the Latin, "middle"


  • Channels of Communication: Speech and Writing
    "Some variation [in language] depends on the medium, that is, the channel of communication. There is a major distinction between spoken and written language. Conversation, the most common type of speech, involves immediate interchange between the participants, who convey their reactions either in words or through facial expressions and bodily movements. There is more spontaneity in conversation than in that is possible in writing and in the greater care that writers take over their choice of words."
    (Sidney Greenbaum and Gerald Nelson, An Introduction to English Grammar, 2nd ed. Pearson, 2002)
  • "[A] significant shift in the nature of communication has been reported for several decades. Increasingly, it has been noted that a shift from a content orientation-with its emphasis on the ideational or substantive dimension of discourse-to a concern for form or medium-with an emphasis on image, strategy, and patterns of discourse-has been identified as a central feature of the information age."
    (James W. Chesebro and Dale A. Bertelsen, Analyzing Media: Communication Technologies as Symbolic and Cognitive Systems. Guilford Press, 1996)
  • The Medium Is the Message
    "[Marshall] McLuhan sought to call attention to the pre-eminent and overlooked role of the medium in communication-the difference between reading news in a newspaper and watching it on TV-with his famous aphorism, 'the medium is the message.' His critics and casual readers mistook that for a claim that the content-what it is we read in newspapers or watch on TV-is totally unimportant."
Interesting facts
  • A virtual scientific community is a group of people, often researchers and students, who share multiple resources related to the scientific field, and whose main medium of communication is the internet. Examples of such communities include the Computational Intelligence and Machine Learning Portal or the Biomedical Informatics Research Network...
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