By Airell Ang, Eunice Ng, Lin Zicheng & Melodie Lee
FIRST TASTE: As part of SYMCamp, participants were invited to NP’s School of Film & Media Studies to attend various seminars and workshops (left) and learn more about the media business.
“Is there a hidden message behind the media?” Students attending the Singapore Youth and Media Camp (SYMCamp) at NP from 15 to 17 Jun found themselves faced with this question.
Organised to increase media literacy among youths in Singapore, the SYMCamp incorporated both seminars and workshops taught by lecturers from the School of Film & Media Studies (FMS).
More than 100 students from 14 different schools received first-hand experience behind the scenes in the media industry, as they attended various seminars such as Violence in the Media and Advertising Messages, as well as radio and filming workshops.
MEDUSA (Media-Eduation Solutions), a research and programming subsidiary of FMS and the organiser for the event, wanted to “inject fun”, and also to make the camp “not only about medialogues”, which is the reason for workshops on top of the typical seminars.
The workshops facilitated by industry professionals were largely popular with the participants.
Inquisitive minds were on a roll and the radio studio buzzed with excitement as the students picked their songs for their very own radio capsule.
Curtis Tan, 14, a student from Fairfield Methodist Secondary School who attended the radio workshop, says, “The lecturers were interesting. They opened up my eyes about the subliminal messages behind the media, but I enjoyed the workshops more. It’s my first time being behind the microphone as a DJ, and it was unforgettable.”
During the workshops, hands flew into the air to compete for the facilitator’s time and attention.
Mr Jason Chow, facilitator of the radio workshop, says, “It’s good exposure for them. This camp gets all the participants excited about the media business. It is easy for people to be critical of media personalities, but only when the students get put in the hot seat will they realise the pressure, and that’s when they’ll be facing their own demons.”
When put in front of the microphone, many of the students were exasperated as they attempted to control the nervousness in their voices.
Yuying Secondary School student Jade Png, 17, recounts her experience in front of the microphone, “It’s my first time. I stammered and had my tongue tied a few times through the capsule. But it was great fun!”
Still, it was not only about deejaying behind the radio stations.
Students learnt about media literacy, or having the “ability to bring critical thinking skills to bear on all media”, which is also what the Media Development of Authority (MDA) hopes to achieve for seven out of ten Singaporeans by 2015.
Unravelling the media
“It’s about the instinct to question what lies behind media productions and how it affects the viewer and the society at large,” says Mr Herald Bangras, who was also in charge of the seminar Violence in the Media.
Mr Clement Tay, trainer at the Advertising Messages seminar, agrees. “Currently, I think youths are too comfortable with order taking, being spoonfed by one or just a few sources of information, and that can be very detrimental to an open, hungry mind.”
As a result, it came as an utter surprise to the students when they found out that there is more than meets the eye in the media content that they mindlessly consume daily.
When Mr Bangras played the track “Relapse” from popular American rapper Eminem’s album and flashed the lyrics on screen, the expression on the students’ faces showed that “they were unnerved if not shocked by the lyrics and the fact that Eminem actually admitted that he was inspired to do the album as a result of watching endless documentaries on serial killers!”
The last day of the SYMCamp 2009 also consisted of a Sports and the Media seminar by Mr Harry Ong, Assistant Director of Sports Industry Development in the Singapore Sports Council.
Mr Ong’s main responsibility is to help the media industry create compelling and entertaining sports content. He also aids owners of sports rights discover new areas for revenue in sports media.
Delivering a speech to an enthusiastic crowd of secondary school students, Mr Ong talked about how sports and the media are closely related, using examples like the 2008 Beijing Olympic games where American swimmer Michael Phelps set consecutive world records and the media were quick to report on the event that made headline news.
In its own fun fashion, the camp accomplished what it set out to do.
Adamant Soh, 14, a student from Chung Cheng High School says, “I used to think that the media is for entertainment only. Now, I have realised that actually, the media also tries to convey messages to the audience.”
Bowen Secondary School student Brendon Lim, 16, says, “I enjoyed it because it wasn’t all about sitting in a lecture and listening to people drone on and on. It was a lot of fun having hands-on experience mixing and producing films.”
The SYMCompetition was also launched during the camp, which calls for research papers on the topic of “Sports and the Media” from students in secondary and tertiary institutions. With more than $3000 worth of prizes to be won, how do all these events in SYMCamp 2009 lead up to the SYMConference 2010?
For one, winners of the SYMCompetiton will get to present their papers at the upcoming SYMConference.
When asked if the upcoming SYMC will be different from previous conferences held, FMS lecturer Ms Sonia Chen says, “The previous topic was on Pop Culture, while the SYMConference 2010 will focus on Sports & the Media as Singaporeans - and the Singapore media - focus their attention on upcoming sporting events such as the Youth Olympic Games 2010.”
Many students requested for a SYMCamp 2010, and wished that the radio and filming workshops were longer in duration.
However, there will not be a camp next year as there will be the conference that is themed according to the upcoming Youth Olympic Games in 2010.
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