A few days after Jim arrived at MediaMiser and dove into his new role as director of content and strategic alliances, we sat down with him for a brief Q&A session. His answers to our seven questions provide some insights on his past, his interests, and what really makes him tick.
Stay tuned for more MediaMiser Q&A sessions throughout the year with staff members, media personalities and others in the community.
And so, as they used to say in the newspaper biz, “Read all about it!”
Question: What made you want to become a journalist?
Answer: I think I always wanted to become either a journalist… or a musician. What the similarities are between those two occupations, I’m not really sure. I do remember back when I was 9 or 10, I used to publish a handwritten newsletter outlining events that occurred on my street. Thinking back to that it all seems pretty nerdy, but I guess it was probably a good indication of what profession I’d eventually join.
Q: We’ve heard rumours that you enjoy pulling pranks occasionally. Which one do you remember most fondly and why?
A: I used to work for Frank Magazine when it was run by the Globe and Mail’s Fabrice Taylor and headquartered in Toronto, and we did some pretty bizarre things. Our Parliament Hill security prank got the most attention, but there were others… such as when we pretended to be a Public Works official and convinced a prominent local Liberal MP, who had just been elected in 2004, to order a $20,000 Tuscan leather couch and $15,000 plasma television for his West Block office. He was a little embarrassed when he found out it was a prank.
Q: Have you been teased about leaving journalism to go over to the “dark side”? If so, how do you respond?
A: A little bit… but not too much. I think many of us in journalism have at least considered that possibility, especially during the last couple of years. Journalism is something that gets in your blood, though, and I know I’ll never stop thinking like a reporter. It’s ingrained.
Q: We hear that you like to box from time to time?
A: I don’t box very regularly anymore, but you’re right, I was lucky enough to be asked to compete in last year’s Fight for the Cure charity boxing event at the Hampton. I trained for around six months at Final Round Boxing for that fight, and ended up winning a split decision on points. My opponent, Shawn Mountain – a great guy – and I were told a few times that we were the fight of the night, and I’d like to think that’s true… we whaled on each other pretty good. People were jumping up on their tables and screaming. It was all kind of surreal.
Q: Being a news guy, you’ve likely thought a bit about the various rivalries in the media business. So here’s one for you: who would win a fight between CBC’s Peter Mansbridge and CTV’s Lloyd Robertson?
A: I think you’d have to give the edge to Mansbridge in that one. He doesn’t have much hair to pull, for one thing, and I think Robertson has a few more years on him.
Q: You’re not originally from Ottawa, right? Where have you lived before and what brought you here?
A: I moved to Ottawa in September of 2000 to begin a two-year masters in journalism at Carleton University. I was born in the Toronto area and grew up in Parry Sound – cottage country – but since then I’ve enjoyed extended stays in Manchester (U.K.), Galway (Ireland) and San Jose (California). I was also in India for close to six months, but I was on the move for much of that time. I don’t think you can truly get a proper feel for a place until you’ve been there at least six months.
Q: What did you do before you became a journalist?
A: In terms of jobs? Before I graduated from journalism school I had been a fast-food worker, a cook, a hardware store stock boy, a bartender, a waiter, a manual labourer for a tree removal company, a construction labourer, a DJ, a bass player, an exterior painter and even a ditch digger. So a few things, I guess.