I'm looking for a word that refers to one who xes a piece of media or describes the action of xing a piece of media, where x is the act by which one experiences that work, and where "piece of media" means an informative (i.e. characterized by its provision or conveyance of information, but not necessarily edifying or educational) work. Viewer/viewing works for film and television, reader/reading for prose and poetry, listener/listening for music and spoken word, but none are agnostic to the type of its respective medium.

I'm specifically avoiding consumer, partaker, and user due to the implication that the work is destroyed when one xes it.

I'm not averse to simply writing reader/viewer/listener, but if a briefer alternative exists I would be glad to learn of it.

  • I would suggest target or victim, if we're generalizing to actual media. Feb 2, 2015 at 20:23
  • @JohnLawler Target seems to imply plurality, as in target audience or target demographic, whereas viewer or reader refers to a single entity. I'm not sure how victim could fit this context.
    – Slade
    Feb 2, 2015 at 20:36
  • 1
    Perceive has just occurred to me as a generic alternative to listen/view/read, although it fails in the case of an interactive medium.
    – Slade
    Feb 2, 2015 at 20:50
  • Get a thesaurus, I suggest Roget's but there are many others available now.
    – Jonno
    Feb 2, 2015 at 21:49

3 Answers 3


A participant: one who participates in an activity.

A subject. Perhaps it's a little off the beaten path, but a subject subjects himself or herself to an informative medium. They then become informed, and the information informs them (i.e., changes or affects them in some way).

What you describe is a form of interaction or interacting. There is not yet a word, however, for an interactor, except when the word applies to the InterActor which is the medium of web conferencing. Look here and here for possible ideas.

By the way, auditor is a perfectly good word, although its primary application is to the hearing process at work in a speaker-to-audience event or relationship (or more technically, rhetor-to-auditor event or relationship).

Even "further out there" is a dyadic event, in which two people are communicating electronically (assuming there is an interactive component to the communication). A telephone/cellphone/smartphone conversation is a relatively simple medium of informative communication. One person sends information while the other person receives; then the roles are reversed in a sort of ongoing feedback loop.

Not knowing the media to which you refer, I'm at a loss to know what kind of interface there is between the informant and the person being informed. In our electronic age, the possibilities are virtually endless, not to mention mind boggling, especially for Boomers like me.

Finally, there's the good old dialogue which, again, in our electronic age is no longer simply a face-to-face interaction in which people are dialoguing with each in person without the aid of any electronic medium whatsoever (unless you consider to be electronic the electrical activity of synapses firing in the bodies of the people who are dialoguing).

In conclusion, perhaps you could give us more information about the media of which you are speaking and how they/it function(s).


Every creative work has an audience:

  1. The assembled spectators or listeners at a public event such as a play, film, concert, or meeting:
    1.1 The people who watch or listen to a television or radio programme:
    1.2 The readership of a newspaper, magazine, or book
    1.3 The people giving attention to something


In advertising and public relations, audience usually refers to a target audience, people specifically intended to receive the message of a campaign, and is to be distinguished from the concept of a public, classically defined as a self-organizing group of interested persons.

There is no common verb form for being a member of an audience, however.

  • 2
    "There is no common verb form for being a member of an audience, however." Auditor/auditing, perhaps? It refers to a hearer or listener, but it's possible common use of "audience" in the context you describe would lend it the same connotation.
    – Slade
    Feb 2, 2015 at 20:44
  • @Slade Fair enough, but I think this use of audit and auditor is much less common than the more active sense of inspecting or assessing is. Students auditing a class would probably not refer to themselves as auditors.
    – choster
    Feb 2, 2015 at 20:52

"User"? "recipient"? "receiver"? I know exactly what you mean - there seems to be no commonly used word for what you describe, but one wishes there was. I'm cheered to find that someone else feels that "to consume information" (or art, or books, etc.) is a bit revolting.

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