Goldsmiths Professor wins Fight Against Stupidity Award

A journalism professor at Goldsmiths, University of London who also helped found EastLondonLInes has been named as the 2019 winner of the Contributions in the Fight Against Stupidity award.

Professor Angela Phillips, an academic, journalist and author, was nominated for the annual award set up by Philosophy Now magazine in 2011. It is given to someone who judges consider has made “an outstanding recent contribution to promoting knowledge, reason or public debate about issues that matter”.

Phillips was presented with the award by editor Rick Lewis at a special Philosophy Showcase held at the Conway Hall, Bloombury on Thursday January 17. She was selected for her “teaching of journalists to be more ethical and self-aware” as an excellent way of fighting stupidity.

Lewis said, “Angela Phillips in her career has combined theory and practice as a journalist herself. Good journalism combats stupidity and combats poor journalism. What is good journalism and how can we have more of it? Good journalism is essential in growth of good civilization”.

Angela Phillps with Rick Lewis Pic: Puja Mazumder

When accepting her award Phillips said, “I’m somebody who teaches people how to find or search out how to deal with bullshit because that’s something a journalist has to do deal with every day. The first step is always to fact check before reporting it. If the evidence doesn’t tell you what it should then you need to reconsider your own assumptions before retesting the evidence.

Phillips has been a journalist for over 40 years, lecturing at Goldsmiths, University of London for 20 years.

She started her career as a photographer and worked for several years as a photojournalist before moving into print for national newspapers and magazines. She has also worked in TV and radio. Phillips’ research includes news audiences’ democracy and journalism, ethics, working practices, the changing audience for news, and changing news consumption behaviour. She has worked with Goldsmiths Leverhulme Media Research Centre and was also one of the founders of the Media Reform Coalition.

Angela Phillips with Philosophy Now Award for contributions in the Fight Against Stupidity, Pic: Puja Mazumder

In 2009 she established the local multi-media news website called East London Lines, which is run by Goldsmiths students. Phillips’ most recent book, which she wrote with Eiri Elvestad, is Misunderstanding News Audiences: Seven Myths of the Social Media Era. It was inspired by her intensive academic research into different aspects of journalism, especially in social media.

Phillips carried out her extensive research into the ethics and practice of journalism in the social media age. Her book Journalism in Context combines theory and practice as a journalist herself.

Upon hearing the news of the nomination, Phillips said: “I was quite shocked when I heard that I have been given an award. I thought it was very unexpected, but I found out it rather charming and I liked the idea of being awarded for the fight against stupidity”. 

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