SYN Media: How Can We Empower the Voices of Australia’s Youth?
In an age where media communications have never been so easily accessible via social media and mobile devices, we’re all able to get a hold of news, music and videos within the span of seconds. While there are the main news outlets that operate in traditional media fields as well as through online blogs like 9 News, or written productions like The Age for example, there has also been a rise in the availability of alternative news outlets - providing a more well-rounded news and reporting space.
However, the dominant media outlets have a notable omission from their production spaces. That is, the insertion of the voice of Australia’s youth. Not only is it important to bring attention to the power of our youth as the voice of the future, but it is also important to support our youth to make it known that their voices matter.
If we were to have a media organisation that did advocate for the empowerment of young Australian voices, who better to do it than Australia’s youth themselves. SYN Media is a youth run community media organisation that provides broadcasting and training opportunities for young Australians. Initially, SYN Media in 2000 started as a union between two youth run radio projects, one of which being a high school run station by students at Thornbury-Darebin Secondary College, 3TD, and the other being RMIT’s Student Radio Association, SRA. SYN Media aims to produce positive social impact amongst Australia’s youth by empowering young people through media making via SYN Media’s podcasts, radio shows and blogs. SYN’s values tap into four main areas:
As an organisation run by young people for young people, they know how crucial it is to ensure that young people are given the opportunity to project their ideas - to give them a space to promote their views and stories to make an impact. If young people feel as though they don’t have an accessible outlet to express their ideas and opinions for change, big or small, SYN Media believes that young people are experts of their own experiences and want to give them a platform to be heard, both literally and figuratively.
In a sit-down interview with SYN Media’s General Manager, Evrim Şen, we were able to delve into how SYN Media’s operations as a not-for-profit organisation are able to create positive social impact amongst Australian youth through media communication platforms.
What does social impact mean for you?
Evrim describes social impact as being able to give young people the space to grow and make mistakes in a safe and supportive environment. Allowing youth to express what they’re interested in whilst also being given the adequate support to follow those endeavours encourages them to try a variety of avenues. Unlike some other organisations who work with young people that try to dictate what content should be pushed, SYN Media emphasises the value in giving flexibility to young people so they can be creatively fluid.
SYN Media’s 90-minute short workshop is designed to show young people how to communicate ideas in the media through innovative pathways. Evrim continues that oftentimes she observes how students may initially come into the program being a little shy, used to being shut down or not invited into the space collaboratively. But once they are given the chance to ‘talk about whatever you want to talk about’, especially for those who have not been given such a chance before, Evrim describes how these young voices really come into their own. It’s all about providing youth with the tools to express and ‘empower’ their voices.
How has SYN Media been able to make a difference on young Australians?
SYN Media’s difference on young Australians can be described through two avenues: firstly, through practical means and secondly, through supportive means. SYN Media supplies offices for youth to create their content with up-to-date equipment and booths to produce professional sounding podcasts, radio shows and TV broadcasts that would otherwise be unavailable to them. Especially in instances where equipment might be hard to get a hold of, sometimes this poses as a block to the accessibility of media production tools. SYN Media is always encouraging of their volunteers and their interests which helps to bolster their confidence in their media making abilities.
The idea of pushing boundaries is also at the heart of SYN Media. To create change and social impact, a level or risk taking is involved. Supporting Australian youth to not be afraid of risk and to learn from their experiences enables media makers to keep ahead of the game and pick up some niche skills along the way to push their vision.
How has your role as General Manager enabled you to give back to the broader community?
Within Evrim’s role as General Manager, they describe it as a truly hands-on job. Young volunteers are always encouraged to reach out to members on the board, like Evrim, to ask questions - most commonly addressed via email. Also, through Annual Awards nights, mentoring events and annual camps Evrim directly connects with volunteers to check in to see how they’re doing, as well as to encourage them to go for those bigger positions at SYN Media. Through these events Evrim can observe the successes that their youth have achieved whilst also giving them a helping hand. Creating that community-like atmosphere where everyone helps out one another is essential as part of that support system.
What are some of your favourite moments from working in a NFP?
One of the major highlights for Evrim was from the end of 2018 when SYN Media was moved from their old building in Carlton to their new location in RMIT which helped the organisation to upgrade their equipment and headquarters. Their new media office has been updated with new gear alongside a shared office with other student clubs which has elevated SYN Media’s operations to allow for more industry-standard production for their producers.
Where do you see SYN Media moving forward?
Looking to future endeavours, which have been assisted by their new office space, SYN Media aims to continue to produce high-quality, professional content in a way that increases exposure and accessibility. In doing so, this generates greater opportunities for their young broadcasters and brings wider audiences to their organisation to truly see the power and impact of Australia’s youth. With so many brilliant minds that are so enthusiastic and energetic in driving home current social issues or even discussing the latest trends, the strength of the young Australian’s voice should be heard loud and clear.
If you would like to take a look at some of SYN Media’s podcasts, you can click here. To watch SYN TV & Screen tune into Channel 31. To listen to SYN’s live radio you can tune into 90.7FM or listen on their website here.