Former NBC “Dateline” anchor Stone Phillips is returning to the world of TV news, only this time his reports will be online.
Phillips, who left “Dateline” and NBC nearly five years ago, has launched a website, StonePhillipsReports.com, and has posted his first investigative piece for the site, “Hard Hits, Hard Numbers,” a look at head injuries in youth football.
“This is a big week, this is Super Bowl week, a lot of people are thinking about football,” Phillips tells TVNewser. “There are 2,000 NFL players, there are 3.5 million players ages 6-13. When you think about the number of people playing the game, and where we need to be focused in terms of safety and exposure to risk, certainly more work needs to be done here.”
For Phillips, the story is also a deeply personal one.
“I played football, I started playing when I was 12,” Phillips says. “During my years both in high school and college football I had two concussions, so this has always been on my radar screen.”
The anchor funded the project himself, calling on his wife Debra, who he says was “the associate producer, the still photographer and the accountant, all rolled into one” and former colleagues like Rich White (camera operator) and Steve Cheng (producer) to help.
“This is not a commercial venture for me, as you can see from the website there is no advertising or anything, the website and this story was just something that I believed in and wanted to get out there,” Phillips added. “It was a story of my choosing, and I wanted to decide how long or short it was, and to go through that whole process, I am very happy with the way it has come out.”
He plans to release more reports on the site as time goes on, though he isn’t in any rush.
“I don’t think I will be terribly prolific with it, in the sense that I want to find stories I really care about,” he says. “What happens down the road will depend on the stories that I find and want to report on.”
Phillips says he believes “a world of good” can come from the report, and that parents and coaches can learn a lot about the health risks by watching it. He also says he learned quite a bit himself when it comes to what it takes to pave your own digital road.
“It is a different world when there is not the breadth and the resources of an entire network behind you when you are an anchor, but I will tell you, this has been a learning experience,” Phillips says. “I never tweeted or Facebooked about anything before, I feel like I just jumped into the 21st century.”