Category Archives: RobinJP

Happy Loving Day 2017 | 50 Years of Equality

Montage of photos of mixed race family. Loving Day celebration.

Sue’s parents married in 1960 while it was still illegal in many U.S. states for a mixed race couple to wed.

I know it’s Pride Month and that has always been important and fun and empowering. But Sue and I are celebrating Loving Day this week, this month .. this year.

Few cases were more aptly named than Loving v. Virginia. 50 years ago today, June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court prohibited laws banning interracial marriage.

Mixed race gay couple applying for marriage license. Loving Day celebration.

Applying for our marriage license.

Specifically, for Mildred and Richard Loving, the Court overturned Virginia’s “Act to Preserve Racial Integrity” which had banned interracial marriage in Virginia while defining a white person as someone who had no discernible nonwhite ancestry.

Loving someone is risky enough without having to fight the government for the fundamental freedom to do so. So, yes, Pride Month and Loving Day are very intertwined. Sue’s parents – an interracial couple – married several years before that 1967 ruling. And Sue and I married several years before bans against our union were thrown out by the Supreme Court.

married couple

On the beach in Provincetown, where we got married.

We have written a memoir about how her parents’ marriage and our marriage are part of this great patchwork quilt in American justice. It will be published this fall by Villarosa Media.

As this ACLU video stresses, neither ruling ended the deeply entrenched discrimination we still see today. It’s a great start, but we must stay vigilant.

More:  Loving v. Virginia 1967 
Video:  ACLU on the importance of keeping vigilant 

Personal Branding for Journalists = Relationships

Here is a link to the slides I used while talking with members of SPJ – the Society of Professional Journalists – and its western states members at their annual convention in Phoenix.

Bottom line:  Personal brand is more than your reputation.
“Personal brand is a collection of perceptions someone else has which describes the experience of having a relationship with you.”Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 5.26.22 PM

It is what you bring to the table. What makes you different, distinct from others who are similar. What makes you spectacular.  My session is 1 part strategy and tools and 4 parts therapy. Journalists, whether you are still in a newsroom or have moved on to another field, have skills that are very valuable in a wide range of jobs.

Enjoy the slides. Reach out to me if you’d like clarification or want to know more.

Personal Brand for Journalists @ SPJ 2016

Personal Branding for Journalists 2016



Robin’s new challenge, new opportunity

Such a nice send off. Lots of teasing, lots of love.

Such a nice early send off. Lots of teasing, lots of love.

I am in that limbo that we find ourselves in only a few times in life — well, some more than others. And journalists, I guess we get more practice than most.

I gave notice a week ago. I’m leaving my current job next week. And I’ll be starting another one the week after that. It’s a nice spot to be in: On one side, people are remembering me fondly and on the other, they are excited about all the potential I bring to them.

I’m headed to the City of Glendale (AZ) to run the City’s digital communications… I’ll be in charge of the city’s websites, social media, and whatever else we cook up in the future. I’m excited about joining a team that understands the power of transparency and community building.

Truly a happy hour.

Truly a happy hour.

So long, ASU

I’ve been honored to work at ASU, Cronkite and the Reynolds Center for Business Journalism, where I’ve been the Digital Director. I’ve had a wonderful time here for the past 5 years, but it’s a good time to step up to a new challenge.

I’m approaching this as an opportunity to figure out how Civic Information can be the new Community Journalism.

Some might not consider this critical journalism, but I do think there is a great opportunity to provide information, filling a gap left by struggling news organizations. I’ll be right there alongside the people of Glendale, residents, business owners, city workers, rooting for the city to do well, to thrive, to be fair, just and transparent. In the lexicon of journalism futurists, I’ll be a stakeholder too. I am no longer a detached observer.

One thing leads to another

Not sure exactly how it will all play out, but it sure feels like a natural progression from my early days in journalism working for a group of smart weekly newspapers in northern Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C.

I’m not the first to say it, but it’s worth repeating: The purpose of journalism is to give people the information they need to make better decisions about their lives and society. The first loyalty to both journalists and government is to citizens. In a world awash in information, there has been no more important time for those of us with journalistic skills to help people understand and help them find their voice.

To get ready for my new role, I’ve been studying city websites and civic social media presence. There are a few good ones, but they fall off quickly. Austin, Portland … then not much. Even big cities have big issues when it comes to how they present themselves online. Some places, like Boston, are putting a lot of time and attention into social media, but that leaves out a large percentage of residents.

It’s going to be an interesting and fun challenge. And, until the transition is complete, I’m going to enjoy this nice warm spot in the middle.

On being lucky and making smart use of your parachute

This post was first published on my Perfect Moment Project blog.

John Dille and me at Cronkite's 2014 graduation ceremony.

John Dille and me at Cronkite’s 2014 graduation ceremony.

For the last three years, six semesters to be precise, I have co-taught a 400-level required journalism course with John Dille, the wise man in the video above.

John and I have made a great team.

We teach a course about the Business & Future of Journalism. John is awesome talking about ‘Big B’ Business. And I share lots of information about what newsrooms are doing these days to attempt to guarantee that they’ll be around in the Future.

John had taught the class on his own for two semesters before I signed on. It didn’t take long for us to get in step with each other, using some of what John had taught before and adding new wrinkles to the class syllabus. The topic is a moving target and we are constantly updating our class content. But even so, after six semesters together, we’ve gotten into a pretty smooth routine.

We were lucky to have each other.

I was very lucky to teach with such a caring, passionate educator and journalist. And I think the best students leave our class understanding that too.

In the final minutes of the final day of each semester, we offer some last words of advice to our students. I tell tell them not to be afraid to change directions along the way and to remember that they are snowballs – always accumulating knowledge, experience, skills that will serve them well no matter what they do.

John tells them the story caught on video below.

Because Spring 2014 at the Cronkite School of Journalism has been our final semester (we’re going to take a little break), I was moved to record the tale that John always shares during these last minutes that we still have the students’ attention. It’s a winner. Even graduating seniors stop and take note. You should watch it.

Personal Branding for Journalists: KipCamp 2014


Doug Haddix KipCamp

Doug Haddix, Assistant vice president, Editorial Communications at The Ohio State University, with 2014 KipCamp Fellows.

“People have an image of you, whether you like it or not, said Robin J. Phillips, digital director at The Reynolds Center for Business Journalism and co-founder of #wjchat, a weekly Twitter-based community of web journalists.

“ (Your brand) is not just about telling people what you’ve done and how great you are. It’s about anticipating what you can do for them and sharing that,” she said.”

It’s also about relationships. Your personal brand has a lot to do with how people feel having a relationship with you.  I was honored to attend the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs again this year.

Personal Branding: Finding Your Social Media Voice | Kiplinger Program

Some of my tips for extending the Fellows’ brands included:

  • Secure your own domain name; this makes finding your work much easier. A website for checking available domain names is
  • Google searches for common names can result in many individuals, so determine how to make yours unique. Phillips goes by Robin J. Phillips to differentiate herself.
  • Try to maintain just one account for each social media platform: It’s easier for the public to locate a journalist’s work.
  • Balance your personal and professional lives, excluding private information. The private can include personal relationships and opinions on almost any matter, which should not be shared because this compromises objectivity.
  • Look at other journalists online. Many have already developed their brand. A few that Phillips considers to have a strong presence:
    Twitter: Mark S. Luckie, @marksluckie
    LinkedIn: Yumi Wilson
  • Do not rely on links, which are owned by other sites and could disappear. When sharing work online, use PDF files to ensure they are easily accessible.
  • Look for individuals who have portfolio websites and model something similar. Portfolio sites allow a journalist to bring together various media outlets into one portfolio.


Our side hustle takes off like a rocket

SkinneePix Selfie USAToday

USAToday’s Jeff Graham took SkinneePix to Venice Beach to see how people like it.

Sue and I have had lots of publicity this week over our new app. Through our business – Pretty Smart Women – we’ve launched a photo app called SkinneePix. And it has taken off.

We are both journalists. We’ve even got a great journalism-based idea that we’re looking for funding for.  But it’s the fun, light photo app that takes off like crazy so far.

It’s been interesting to be on the other end of the publicity machine. Even though we have been very accessible, we’ve been amazed at how many people have written about SkinneePix and lifted quotes from one of us from early stories without giving us a call  (in particular this one from the LA Times: New app SkinneePix makes your selfies a little skinnier).


Here are some highlights from the week:

  • USA Today’s tech reporter took the app to the beach and had a little fun. Take 15 lbs off your selfie with new app  
  • Here’s an interview with the two of us on The Wall Street Journal: Shave 15 lbs. off your selfie SkinneePix on the iPhone
  • We’ve had lots of sensational criticism, people calling our  app is ‘evil’ and accusing of us capitalizing on people’s vanity. (for the record, we are not evil):
  • This Guardian piece is one of the better ones in this vein, yet the reporter did not call us: The ugly truth about SkinneePix 
  • And here’s my response to the writer. My comment on the story has had lots of thumbs up from other readers. Many were happy to see me join them in the comments “below the line”:  Hi, Guardian Crew! 
  • AND here’s a local story which takes an angle about local women do good. I hate that video they stuck on top of the story. Am trying to get them to replace it with the USAToday video:  Phoenix Developers’ SkinneePix App Slims Users’ Faces 

Wild and healthy

SkinneePix is fun and came about after years of hearing friends say, ‘Use the skinny lens on this photo.’  In the fall of 2013, we looked at each other and said, ‘Maybe we can make the skinny lens.’
Sue is using the app to lose some weight and get a little more healthy. She’s written about it in Getting Healthy With My Selfie.
So far, this has been wild and fun.  And the app isn’t even a month old yet.  Sue is on her way to New York City, representing Pretty Smart Women in more interviews. We’re not sure where this will take us, but in a few weeks, we’ll turn back to some of the other projects we’ve got in the works.

I am a lesbian journalist. Hear me roar

I originally wrote this article for NLGJA News.

By Robin J. Phillips

Apparently Rachel Maddow is so far out of the closet she’s out of mind.

As the news broke about CNN’s Anderson Cooper formally coming out, Twitter erupted and columnists began posting. Two main narratives took shape quickly: 1. Well, duh! and 2. Is this relevant?

Anderson Cooper on ForbesIn no time, Forbes had a piece up by Jeff Bercovici who wrote, “It’s not often you can make news by telling the world something it already knows.” The Forbes headline was “Anderson Cooper Comes Out As TV’s First Openly Gay Anchor.”

Oh yeah? What about CNN’s Don Lemon? MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts? Or Steve Kornacki who co-hosts at 3 p.m. for MSNBC.

Or what about Jane Velez-Mitchell from Turner’s HLNTV? Or how about MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow?

Later in the day, the headline was changed to add “Prime Time” and a correction on the post was added to point out that the original version omitted Lemon and Roberts. But while it might be simple to change a headline, or offer a correction, it is not so easy to change the original impression that there are no lesbian anchors on Network and Cable television.


Forbes argues that Maddow isn’t officially designated as an anchor. So I guess she doesn’t count. And they didn’t even mention Velez-Mitchell who CNN calls an anchor.

I get that Cooper is a household name and reporting on what they consider a “First” is more exciting than reporting on the “Fifth” or “Sixth” or “Yet Another”.

I get that discussions about whether journalists should be out (in their newsrooms and the world) are important. And his coming out did lead to a lot of these types of discussions and the impact they have on the way we cover the news. One of the most important things NLGJA can do is help young journalists navigate these waters.

Yet, what does a young LGBT broadcaster learn from the past week? Well, it may just depend on whether that broadcaster is a young woman or a man.

A young gay woman may come away from last week thinking that no matter how hard she works as a journalist, no matter how she proves herself or what job she lands, there is something about her being either a woman or a lesbian that will make her invisible.

We are not invisible, we are here. We are in newsrooms in all positions, from the bottom to the top, running websites, running papers, running newscasts and anchoring them. We want to be counted when big stories break, not discounted. Continue reading