Interview: Wendy Syfret - Editorial Coordinator at Vice
I was actually bumped up to Editorial Coordinator last year so my job involves a few facets. I manage the website, monitor traffic, commission and edit pieces, write them myself, and generally oversee the day-to-day editorial things. Our Editor is also our creative director and is a pretty busy dude, so often heíll give the direction and Iíll work out how to put it in place Ė how to cover certain topics better, grow contributors, or cover an event.
How did you come to working at VICE Ė in other words, can you describe your own background?
When I finished university I freelanced and travelled for a while, and then I came to VICE as a 22-year-old for a three-month internship. I think timing-wise I was lucky because it was at a point where a lot of things were changing and roles were growing. My biggest piece of advice for interns is to take on as much work as you can physically handle; donít say no to anything. Firstly, people like you, but my whole goal was to make sure that when I finished up, people would be used to my help and wouldnít want to go back to things without me.
Saying that, I did take off travelling for six months when my time was up. I got an email in Mexico asking me to come help them out when I was home and the rest was history. Oh, another piece of advice: if you have an office thatís big on lunches Ė always go if invited. I love the interns that come to lunch.
Could you describe any unique or bizarre experiences (or content) that youíve come across? What opportunities have come out of working for publications like VICE?
It has given me access to people and stories I would have struggled to get otherwise, be it interviewing scientists, cult members, or photographers I look up to. A lot of the stuff I end up writing about is unique. When I was in university I probably wouldnít have guessed Iíd have written so many stories about aliens and weird animal news.
What other projects are you currently involved with?
I run a site called Good Good Girl (www.goodgoodgirl.com) thatís all-female curated content. I try to see it as a 21st Century feminist meeting place. P.S. weíre always looking for new contributors!
How do you separate your own ethical values with some of the more questionable (or ethically ambiguous) content that you come across?
I donít. A lot of people assume VICE is a loose moral environment but itís not. The magazine is very liberal, but so am I. Most of the stuff we cover about drug laws, or police brutality, etc. reflects my own opinions. Iíd never write or publish something I donít believe is ethical. I constantly get pitches that would get a lot of attention but I feel are sexist or offensive in some way and I always pass. I donít care if something gets a million clicks; if I think the message is damaging, I donít want it. Although to be clear, that doesnít mean I wonít run different opinions to mine Ė I donít care whom you vote for, but I care if youíre mean-spirited or vile.
As an insider, do you have a position on the print media versus digital debate?
I think the digital revolution is the most exciting thing since the printing press; it democratised the media and meant that young people can write for any publication they like and stand next to their peers without having to move overseas or make other sacrifices. It pains me that print is declining but it will never die. All writers still get a huge rush from being published in a print publication. Sometimes I also think that the competition means people need to be better and more innovative to survive, which is always a plus.
What do you see yourself (ideally) doing in ten years? Why this?
Oh man, ideally my site would finally be making money to pay my rent and contributors. But perhaps editing and managing my own small team somewhere.
Could you list three cool things for visitors to do in Melbourne?
Check out the Heide Gallery and see if someone can give you a little bit of history about the site and Sunday Reed, one of my personal heroes. There is too much food to mention, but Iím lazy and live in Northcote so Iíd say get a pizza at Pizza Meine Liebe and duck next door for a drink at Joeís Shoe Store Ė best pizza and bar in town if you ask me. Working at i-D (I coordinate that as part of VICE) itís probably not surprising that Iím pretty clothes obsessed, and Alice Euphemia stocks all my friendsí and my own favourites so check them out. Oh, and if you have any money left, Monk House also rules.