In each issue of the Circle Park News, we feature one or more members of the CCI Board of Visitors through a Q&A session. This feature is on BOV member Jim Sexton.
Jim Sexton earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from UTK in 1981. He currently is Senior Vice President and Editorial Director of Time, Inc. Lifestyle Digital, where he manages content, social media, and product development for RealSimple.com, MyRecipes.com, Health.com, MyHomeIdeas.com, CookingLight.com, SouthernLiving.com, Sunset.com, CoastalLiving.com, 10best.com, and Allyou.com. Jim has won a variety of awards for his websites. He and his wife, Gretchen, live in Birmingham, Alabama with their children, Mackenzie and Maggie. Jim has been a member of the CCI Board of Visitors since 2007.
CCI – How and when did you first get involved on a volunteer basic with CCI?
Jim – I signed on for the Board of Visitors in spring of 2007. I believe it was soon after Dean Mike Wirth joined the college. He and I had lunch and I was thrilled to be able to help the college.
CCI – In your view, what is the most important role you’ve played as a volunteer?
Jim – It is probably giving the college input from a new media perspective. I manage content and development for websites as well as mobile devices, e-readers and social media. Hopefully I can give input that helps the college prepare students for this new world.
CCI – Why have you chosen to support the college, and why is this important?
Jim – I got a great education at the college, in particular broad exposure to many media forms (newspapers, magazines, TV and radio). The school taught me how to write, how to work in teams (at the Beacon and the Yearbook), and how to pursue solutions for creative challenges. I want to give back and help the next generation of students get an even better education. If we all do a little on this front, it can have a big impact for the college.
CCI – What do you hope to accomplish during your term on the BOV?
Jim – In general, I want to help the college grow and prosper during a tough economic time. But more specifically, I’d like to help the college prepare students for a very dynamic and quickly changing media environment. Consumers want very different things from media today than they did 10 years ago. But they want more information than ever. UT can and should be a leader on this front.
CCI – Is there anything exciting or interesting going on behind the scenes at CCI that the average alum might not be aware of?
Jim – The new Scripps Convergence Lab is a very exciting addition to the college. And I can say first hand that the college is indeed preparing top notch graduates. At Time Inc. we recently had two students from UT working as interns on one of our websites, MyRecipes.com. Both were fantastic contributors who quickly took on responsibilities well beyond their years.
CCI – If someone is considering volunteerism as a way to give back to the University, what advice would you have for them?
Jim – Do it! The University really needs all alumni to help it reach its full potential. Even small contributions in time or money make a big difference.
CCI – What from your UT and CCI experience has stuck with you during life since graduation?
Jim – A two part answer: 1) During my time on the BOV, I’ve been so impressed with the quality and accomplishments of the other BOV members. The college has turned out some impressive graduates. It has been fun getting to know them. 2) During my time in school, I worked as a reporter on the Beacon and as a photographer on the Yearbook. We more or less worked without adult supervision. It was a great learning experience in that we were allowed to learn from our own mistakes. And when you did great work, lots of people noticed. This was very motivating and rewarding.
CCI – What is your favorite memory from your time at UT?
Jim – One of my favorite memories is working for the legendary sports announcer John Ward. I was his “scoreboard reporter” during one basketball season, writing up literally every action on the court so he could accurately recount key moments of the game. And during two football seasons I drove video tapes of the Johnny Majors show to TV stations in Nashville, Jackson, and Memphis after every football game. I usually left Knoxville around midnight on game days, and arrived in Memphis around the time the sun came up. It’s funny to think back on how the viewing pleasure of football fans across Tennessee was dependant on a 19 year-old college student driving an old Ford Capri. And it’s amazing to think how much television delivery technology has changed since then.