19 Nov
2012
Posted in: Careers, Profiles
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10 questions with James Sims, digital content editor for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

This Q&A is the 19th in a series of profiles on my blog. What’s the criteria, you ask? I think you’re cool and want to ask you questions. James and I have shared a few tweets back and forth, and when I found out he was in charge of digital content for one of the most iconic brands in New York City, I knew I had to find out more. In this Q&A, he talks about his cool gig, reality TV and his biggest passion in life.

You trained as a TV and radio reporter in the U.S. Air Force, and then later earned your master’s degree at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. What is it that appeals to you about this particular field, and how do you see it evolving over the next five to 10 years?

I’ve always been fascinated by backstories, be it the history of a product or the life of a celebrity. Whenever I meet a person, I have to force myself to keep from turning a casual conversation into an interrogation — I’m never satisfied with superficial knowledge. My interest in reporting came out of this thirst for knowledge. With each new nugget of information I acquire, I immediately want to share it with anybody willing to pay attention.

Journalism will continue to evolve over the next 10 years, with a continued growth of hyper-local or hyper-detailed reporting continuing to thrive. Digital publications, more specifically social media, gives everyone a “printing press.” If a detail is out there, 20 digital journalists will uncover it, dissect it and blog about it.

You’ve had the opportunity to work at media outlets like Entertainment Tonight, The Hollywood Reporter and The Huffington Post. Who’s the most interesting person you’ve ever met, and why?

The most interesting person I ever met was playwright Edward Albee. I’m not one to get star struck — one couldn’t work in the entertainment industry if your jaw dropped at the sight of a legend — but when I sat across from Mr. Albee for an hour-long chat, I found myself swept away in a sea of fascination. Here was a man that wrote one of Broadway’s greatest plays. More importantly, however, was his connection to off-Broadway’s heyday. He was also the most difficult interview subject I have ever met, which was a thrilling challenge.

You recently wrote an article for HuffPo about TLC’s “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” and called it “exploitive television.” What do you think it is about reality TV that makes us unable to look away (I’m putting myself in this category), and is there any end in sight?

I’m the worst offender when it comes to watching reality television. There truly is no turning away from the screen when the likes of Honey Boo Boo come on at night. I chalk it up to mankind’s interest in always wanting to see somebody else worse off than they might be at the time. Feeling down? Flip on “Jersey Shore.” You’re bound to feel slightly less ashamed about whatever is ailing you when you see Snooki drunk and stumbling through the streets as police are in pursuit. Is there any end in sight? Not if there is even a penny in profit to be made by Hollywood.

One would imagine that Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is a very visual brand. What platforms do you find your community engages with the most (i.e. Instagram, YouTube, etc.)?

Photos, photo, photos. When I’m considering what to put on Lincoln Center’s social media channels, I gravitate toward the most visually appealing photograph, as our online community always engages with a great visual post. Photos have proven to be the most engaging content on both Facebook and Instagram. While we do post videos on YouTube, the numbers don’t come close when comparing to photos.

What’s the best part about your job? The most difficult?

The best part of my job is being able to talk and post about the performing arts all day. The most difficult part of my job is having to stay awake for a late-night performance on those nights when you’re already running on five cups of coffee.

You’re a big fan of Broadway shows — which ones are at the top of your list?

Here’s my top five favorite shows currently running on Broadway:

  • Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
  • Wicked
  • Newsies
  • Peter and the Starcatcher
  • The Book of Mormon

You’re also into “Hocus Pocus” and all things Disney. What else would people be surprised to learn about you?

Well, not everyone might know that I’m also a bit of a Trekkie. My father was the property master on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager, so I basically grew up on the set of those two shows. For a long time, I sort of shrugged off any interest in the franchise, mostly because the term Trekkie always had some geeky association in my head, and when I was growing up, the last thing I wanted to be was a geek. Now that I’m older, and more than happy to call myself a geek, I’ve embraced my inner-Trekkie.

What are you most passionate about?

I’m most passionate about live theater, more specifically Broadway. I love seeing shows, reading plays, analyzing the industry and discovering art.

You have one full day to yourself. No obligations. What do you do?

I would finally start writing one of the many books floating around in my head. So many ideas, so little time.

How can people connect with you, both personally and professionally?

If by “connect” you mean contacting me, I’m everywhere. Send me a tweet. Shoot me a Facebook message. Stalk me on Instagram. I’d recommend not trying to post on my Google+ wall, because, well, who actually uses Google+? If by “connect” you mean emotionally, well, just start talking about the arts or pop culture and I’m sure we will start clicking.