Some see Harry Styles, Kim Kardashian and Home and Away as pop culture puff. Wendy Syfret sees modern-day equivalents of Shakespeare.
“I really do think that we are living in a golden age of media and it blows my mind that you wouldn’t consume it,” says the Head of Editorial at VICE and a speaker at this year’s Women in Media National Conference.
“It would be like if you lived around the corner of the Globe Theatre and you didn’t go see Shakespeare’s plays.”
Syfret’s love of pop culture is evident in her social media accounts. Her Instagram is an ode to iconic moments and her Twitter feed provides an impassioned commentary on anything trending.
“I’ve always been a real media junkie,” she says. “I really pride myself on seeing every movie, watching every TV show, reading every book, continuing every comic.”
It’s no wonder that Syfret thrives in a job where she is paid to explore her passions.
Since starting as an intern at VICE, she gradually made her way up the ladder to secure the role of Head of Editorial, attributing her success to not having an ego and doing anything whether it was in her job description or not.
“When I started, I knew at the end of the three months I was going overseas and I wanted the first day I wasn’t in the office to be harder for everyone else,” she says.
“I wanted to be something they missed so they would bring me back and I think that stood out more than any writing I did.”
During her time at VICE, Syfret has wandered into many strange niches, from writing about plastic surgery for dogs or whether dying was bad for the environment, to eating dirt for her ‘Well, Thank U’ video series. She also enjoys writing about mental health, gender, sexual health and sexual rights as a way of prompting important conversations.
“The best content is when an idea is in the collective consciousness but isn’t an idea yet. It’s like a feeling and then you write an article about it and someone’s like, ‘That’s what I think but I didn’t know I thought it yet’,” she says.
Syfret’s opinions are constantly being aired in the public domain. When she was younger, she worried about leveraging off other people’s memories and moments but now she says it’s a writer’s job to be a sponge and decide what ideas should be amplified.
“A plumber fixes a sink. A doctor makes you feel better. A writer sifts through all the information we’re digesting all the time and decides which pieces are interesting and other people should be thinking about,” Syfret says.
Although she tells other people not to, Syfret reads the comments on her work and admits to intensely stalking her haters online when she was younger. Now she thinks it’s funny and doesn’t take it so personally.
Syfret is looking forward to the Women in Media Conference at Bond University on the Gold Coast from September 14-15 and is excited to see the challenges and triumphs of other female journalists.
“It’s still a pretty weird time to be a woman in media, which is so crazy to say because we’re 50 per cent of the population,” she says.
“I think that you should support women to live their lives the way that makes them feel safe and happy and fulfilled. It doesn’t matter what you want to call it or what it looks like. It’s allowing people to have the freedom to create the worlds they want to live in.”
Author: Dinushka Gunasekara