Jonathan Brown – Media Educator & Founder of We Matter Media

Jonathan Brown is a media educator based in Melbourne, Victoria working with young people in community broadcasting and media. He was born in country Victoria, but grew up in Adelaide where he started his media career at Radio Adelaide as a broadcast trainer and eventually became the Youth Representative for the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia. He now works for SYN Media – Australia’s largest youth led media organisation which trains thousands of young people each year in media and broadcasting skills. He is very proud of the work they do.

My passion in life is about creating opportunities for people to share their stories with the world. I love supporting the underdog – the little heard voices.

Jonathan runs the social change media website We Matter Media which is about highlighting the people and the stories making change.

What are you working on right now? 

I believe our community is stronger when we learn to listen to the stories of others and reflect on our own. I believe at the heart of social change is conversation. I want to create good conversations.”

Right now at SYN Media we’re running a summer school to teach media skills to same sex attracted and gender diverse young people – a project and initiative I’m really proud of called Queer Youth on Air, I’m continuing to build up the team and content base for We Matter Media and I’m campaigning for social networks to provide better mental health support to their users.

How do you make ideas happen?

I’m learning to stop sitting with ideas for so long and just giving them a crack.”

I’ve realised pretty quickly that I’m not happy unless I have new challenges to look forward to. I make new ideas happen through trial and error. I’m learning to stop sitting with ideas for so long and just giving them a crack.

The other way I make ideas happen is by surrounding myself with good people who push me. I have a few key friends and colleagues who push me out of my comfort zone and give me the courage to go harder and reach higher.

What does your typical day look like?

My days are very diverse. One of the wonderful things about working in community media is the diversity of people I get to interact with on a daily basis.

My day normally starts reading articles from my favourite Tweeters (@Colvinius is fantastic for a constant stream of interesting articles) and blogs like TVtonightGizmodo and Lifehacker.

I have the luxury of walking to and from work every day which is a fantastic way to wake up and clear my head. I’ll grab a coffee on the way, reach the office and my day could be any number of things:

  • Wrangling a group of 30 high schools students for a media workshop.
  • Meeting with partners in the media, education or arts sectors.
  • Working with SYN’s talented volunteers on their radio, television or digital media outputs.
  • Doing admin, budgets and the usual mountain of spreadsheets.
  • Working with my amazing team of co-workers on a wide range of education and community access media projects.

Then I walk on my way home (usually on the phone to old friends), arrive home and work on projects like We Matter Media.

What challenges have you faced when starting or growing your business in Australia?

We Matter Media is not for profit at this stage and I’m well accustomed to the not for profit sector in Australia. The trickiest part in growing is finding a voice in our publication and garnering interest in that unique voice. As with any volunteer venture, building a community around the venture is the first task which can’t be manufactured. It has to be organic and genuine.

What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?

I would love to see youth voice amplified in Australia.”

I would love to see youth media hubs in every Australian capital city. Designed places where young people can come to share their story in their own unique way whether it be through conversational means like television or radio or through creative means like art. I would love to see youth voice amplified in Australia.

What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment? 

My good friend Steph Walker (check out her interview on Ideas Hoist) is doing great stuff with her project the Emerging Media Makers Initiative (EMMI.com.au) and is a passionate advocate for student led media. She’s a great fighter for student culture and ensuring vital institutions are protected and evolve.

What about internationally?

I love the work of Upworthy.com – their mantra is simple and highly effective. I think they’ve done a fantastic job sharing fantastic social change content. I would love to make an Australian version of their site.

What role do you think the media should play in affecting social change?

“People online tend to gravitate towards platforms and media makers that reinforce their existing views. For the media to be a viable tool for social change we must break this cycle.”

The media needs to do a better job representing the diversity of our society. It’s not good enough any more to present black and white arguments on important social issues. The media needs to play a more active role in breaking binary politics and discourse. We need to find nuance and diversity in the way we produce, present and disseminate information in the digital age. People online tend to gravitate towards platforms and media makers that reinforce their existing views. For the media to be a viable tool for social change we must break this cycle.

Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers?

Name 3 Australian’s we should follow on Twitter? 

  • @Colvinius – Always spreading fantastic content, interesting articles, sparking great discussion
  • @Stokely – For great Melbourne based intelligent discussion and tech/geekery
  • @IndigenousX – A fantastic way to hear more about the lives of indigenous Australians

Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?

I would love for We Matter Media to be a community driven project. I want other people to help shape its content, tone and style and I want it to become a new platform and opportunity for emerging writers and media makers to give it a crack of their own. If you care about media being used for the betterment of our community, please get in touch.

Our readers are smart, creative, talented and good looking. Here’s your chance to ask them anything.

What stories do you think are missing from our national conversation?

What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?

Three Bags Full in Abbotsford. The food and coffee is stunning, but be prepared to wait.

Make sure you sign-up to join our amazing community for Australians making ideas happen.

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