While many might not know Stone Phillips by name, his work as an anchor and interviewer is well known. In the 1990s, when Americans were still reliant on nightly news broadcasts for their information, Stone Phillips worked on some of the most prominent shows, such as 20/20 and Dateline NBC. He secured some of the most difficult interviews of the time, and provided a personality that still influences how the news is delivered. However, with changing technologies, many anchors were unable to retain the relative fame they had before the Internet. So, what did Stone Phillips do after leaving Dateline?
Stone Phillips’ Education and Work at ABC
Stone Stockton Phillips was born in Texas City, Texas, in 1954. His father was a chemical engineer and veteran of World War II, and his mother was a school teacher. They raised him in Ballwin, Missouri, where he was an acolyte at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, of which they were founding members. When Phillips was in high school, he was an honor student, and the starting quarterback on his football team. These early interests would stick with Phillips, shaping his career to this day.
Phillips continued to excel after enrolling at Yale University. In 1976 he was the starting quarterback for their Bulldogs, helping to win that year’s Ivy League Football Championship. He also won Yale’s F. Gordon Brown Award, for his academic and athletic leadership skills. A member of Yale’s Scroll and Key secret society, Phillips graduated with honors in 1977, having earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.
Initially after graduation, Phillips worked as a teacher at the Fulton County Juvenile Detention Center, in Atlanta, Georgia, in addition to moonlighting as a waiter. Eventually, he secured a position at WXIA-TV, the local NBC affiliate. In 1980, Phillips was hired by ABC News as an assignment editor in Washington, D.C. This was yet another impressive achievement, as Phillips had been working for WXIA-TV for less than two years. Starting in 1982, Phillips began working as an on-air correspondent for ABC. Among the most notable events he provided coverage for were the Vietnamese Exodus, Rajiv Gandhi’s campaign for Prime Minister of India, and the Lebanese War.
Phillips was promoted to a permanent position on the ABC news series 20/20, in addition to becoming a sports anchor for World News Sunday, and substitute host of Good Morning America. While there, he provided reports on a variety of topics, from football to international espionage, working with notable journalists Barbara Walters and Hugh Downs.
Phillips Moves to NBC, Works on Dateline
After 12 years with ABC, Phillips left to join NBC News to serve as co-anchor of their new show, Dateline NBC. Working with Jane Pauley, Phillips conducted a great number of significant interviews for the program. He interviewed Russian President Boris Yeltsin, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, and conducted the first network interview with Lynndie England about her role in the now-famous Abu Ghraib prison scandal. His interview with Bernhard Goetz, who shot four teenagers in a New York City Subway train, earned Phillips an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Interview.”
For the premiere episode of The Colbert Report, in 2005, comedian Stephen Colbert brought Stone Phillips on as a guest, where Colbert credited the anchor’s “gravitas” as a inspiration for the iconic persona Colbert would develop for his show. This demonstrates how influential Stone Phillips was, not just on those who watched his show, but to other people who reported on current events.
Stone Phillips Leaves NBC – Update on What He’s Doing Now
Unfortunately, NBC choose not to renew Stone Phillips’ contract in 2007, reportedly due to budget cuts. While the reporter has since produced a few pieces for PBS, most of his efforts seem focused around his website, Stone Phillips Reports. A bare-bones website Phillips runs himself, Stone Phillips Reports currently has two self-produced pieces. The first is a report on a recent study on head injuries in youth football players. While paid for and produced by Phillips, “Hard Hits, Hard Numbers,” was also syndicated on PBS’s show NewsHour. Phillips has said that he had not planned on it being broadcast, and that he appreciated that producing content for his own website. “The great thing about the Web,” he said, “is that I can do it the way I want to do it.”