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Swinburne study shows benefits of SYN Media on young people

enadmin, 21st October 2013

A survey conducted by the Swinburne Institute for Social Research into the participation of young people at youth-run community broadcaster SYN Media has found 97% of people would recommend SYN to others.

Conducted in June, the survey found the benefits of SYN participation are numerous and widespread, and that SYN provides young people with work experience that, for a significant number, leads to employment in the highly competitive media labour market.

Some of the benefits listed by respondents included:

  • Over a quarter of all former SYN volunteers have gone on to work in the media industry, with many working as producers and journalists, demonstrating that SYN provides a real pathway into media careers;
  • The vast majority of those currently working in the media industries reported that SYN helped them to gain work, providing both skills and experience employers recognised;
  • 84% of survey respondents list SYN experience on their curriculum vitae;
  • 64% rated their SYN experience as either “useful” or “very useful” in gaining paid work.
  • The research study also highlighted SYN’s commitment to provide personal and professional development opportunities, resulting in young people developing industry standard communication skills, establishing networks and building leadership qualities:
  • 68% of survey respondents stated they were “better now than before SYN” when it came to networking with individuals and organisations;
  • 68% say their digital media abilities are better as a result of SYN, and;
  • 53% say they are better at training others.

The survey was commissioned by SYN Media and conducted by Swinburne Institute of Social Research Associate Professor, Ellie Rennie, who says the results demonstrate the impact SYN has on young people.

'The survey results show that SYN is achieving impressive results for young people, particularly in relation to increased work opportunity in the media industries, but also other life skills,' says Rennie.

SYN General Manager Tahlia Azaria says the results reinforce the community service that SYN provides.

'This survey shows just how important community media and youth-led initiatives are. Aside from providing the opportunity to actually make media, SYN is supporting young people to achieve a range of professional and personal development outcomes which is helping them pursue their interests and forge successful careers,' says Azaria.

SYN provides training and broadcast opportunities to over 1000 people aged 12 to 26 every year.

A summary report of the survey can be downloaded here.

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How is media convergence impacting on established, ‘broadcast-era’ community media? This paper takes SYN (a community radio licensee in Melbourne) as a case study and employs media ethnography and policy analysis to identify contemporary challenges facing community media.

Community media requires a different approach to convergence than that which is commonly associated with the professional creative industries. In the community sphere, convergence is led by members and encouraged through open, participative processes. The ‘open source organisation’ is proposed here as a useful way of thinking through the challenges of convergence and the limitations of Australia’s existing communications policy framework.


This paper offers a descriptive account of the development, operation and management of the youth media program YouthWorx Media that engages disadvantaged young people in media creation. Through the combined perspectives of the project manager and researcher working on the project, we reflect on the actual, on-the-ground practices. A provision of intermediary pathways for reconnection with education and employment via media training for Melbourne ‘youth at risk’ is the key objective of the project, against which the project’s ‘real world’ social outcomes are being documented and measured. However, we recognise also the ‘messiness’ of the program’s delivery process, and its uneasy documentation through ethnographic research. The implementation of projects like YouthWorx involves a series of calculated strategic decisions informed by a set of shared values and underlying philosophies (e.g., a pedagogy of working with ‘youth at risk’ via media presented here), but also—and equally important—numerous ad hoc responses to ‘real’ situations at hand. This paper emphasises then an inherent process of translation of the project’s original conceptions or ideas, constantly tested and re-visited, into on-the-ground educational and media activities. It underscores a value of exploring connections between theory/philosophies and practice, social work and academic research, hoping to contribute to a wider discussion of the role of community media/arts initiatives in stimulating positive social change.


In 2004 the first, national, statistically robust, quantitative assessment of the Australian community broadcasting sector’s audience reach was undertaken. Conducted by McNair Ingenuity, this research provided a major breakthrough in the wider shift to a more audience-centred approach to managing the sector. The findings, significance and implications of this research are considered here. Following recent developments in critical cultural policy studies, this paper locates this renewed concern for community broadcasting audiences within a ‘larger cycle of decision-making’ (O’Regan, Balnaves and Sternberg 2002: 2). The particular influence of developments such as the emerging spectrum market and the imminent transition to digital transmission systems is discussed. These developments are important to understanding why community broadcasting resistance to market-based conceptions of audience is being overcome, and how audience-centredness might be used to facilitate the continuing development of this ‘third’ sector of Australian broadcasting.