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.