A Legacy Of A Journalist

Phillips Shares His Story And Experience Working At “20/20”

Martin Phillips, associate professor in Lynn’s College of Communication and Design since 2010, opens up on his upbringing, his start as a journalist and working for “20/20.”

Phillips grew up in a family where there was significant interest in politics and communications    heightened by growing up as a white family during the South African period called Apartheid.

His family was some of the white individuals fighting for the rights of black, African families.

“We were always a very political and societal  family,  a  family  that  looks  at society to find out what was wrong with  it,”  said  Phillips.  “If  you  think about  it,  looking  into  society  and finding out what is wrong with it, is what journalists do.”

From  a  professional  standpoint, Phillips started his career at CBS News as a researcher after graduating from Columbia University. The job consisted of   looking   into   any   assignment allocated  to  him  by  the  network.  His beginning as a journalist coincided with the exit of the Nixon administration, which  left  the  country  experiencing real trauma – resulting in a lot of stories that needed reporting.

In  his  ten  years  working  at  CBS News, he made his way up the ranks from  a  researcher  to  an  associate producer  to  a  senior  producer  at  “60 Minutes.”  He  later  left  to  continue  his work at NBC, having the opportunity to be of more influence and experience new  challenges. In 1990, he went on to work at ABC Network’s “20/20” as an investigative producer.

“I worked with people like Barbara Walters, Hugh Downs, John Stossel, with  the  initial  group who  started  at ‘20/20,’” said Phillips. 

Under ABC, Phillips started working with Peter Jennings, the lead anchor at the time for ABC News. He worked with Jennings on specials and became the executive producer for  TV specials  and  a  senior  producer at “20/20.” 

Phillips  remembers  most of the stories he has covered, especially one that helped reunite a family. Phillips and his team investigated a mother who was separated from her child because authorities said she has Munchausen syndrome by proxy. After Phillips and his team published several stories on the matter, the mother and daughter were reunited. 

After  an extensive career in the field,  Phillips  decided  to  go  to the  classroom  and  teach  the  next generation of journalists. 

“My advice to young journalists is to understand that you have to know how  to  research  in order to find a story,” said Philips.

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