Scripps alumnus looks back on years as AP, Time reporter
By Noah Lewton
Flying on Hillary Clinton’s plane, meeting Barack Obama and casually chatting with John McCain, E.W. Scripps School of Journalism alumnus and TIME Magazine Washington Correspondent Phil Elliott has spent a majority of his professional career covering politics.
Working at Time, Elliott has earned a job that comes with a very busy schedule. His routine consists of waking up to see if Trump tweeted anything, then to see if anyone tweeted anything about him. It’s then off to staff meetings to discuss ideas and breaking news operations.
Elliott enjoys the collaborative nature of Time magazine, adding that the process is “rewrite after rewrite until it is as perfect as possible.”
“Two of my favorite people at Time are people you’ve never heard of, fact checkers in NYC who check through every single sentence. They have forced me to be more precise and double-check every word in every story. It is one of the luxuries of working at this magazine,” Elliott said.
He produced a 700-word article about Trump’s slow-to-start presidency, and the fact checkers sent him back 18 more questions.
Before joining Time magazine, Elliott spent almost a decade at The Associated Press. He covered politics, campaign finance, education and the White House. His earliest job with the AP was intended to be a temporary nine-month contract, to be extended only if he could prove himself. He earned a one-year temporary contract to work in the New Hampshire Bureau, covering the 2008 primary, and flew out on Clinton’s plane to earn a permanent position at the Columbus Bureau.
After college, Elliott worked at The Marietta (Ohio) Times, and for three years at the Evansville Courier, located in a town devoted to religion. The readers demanded the highest standards of ethical journalism.
“As far as being fair, part of being fair is being honest,” Elliott said. “And sometimes that honesty leads you to uncomfortable truths.”
While at the Evansville Courier, he wrote stories covering controversial mosques within the city following September 11th, and his investigative skills lead him to expose pedophilia within the Catholic Church, which meant interviewing victims of abuse.
“My reporting leads me to a final product that’s worth sharing. Having an opinion isn’t enough. You need the reporting,” Elliott said. “There’s not a shortage of opinionated journalism and hot takes.”
His core dream of becoming a journalist was present since an early age, but he did not become passionate for politics until he was in college. While taking some political science classes at Ohio University, he became invested in the role of the press for the American public.
While in Scripps, Elliott worked four years at The Post, earning the position of managing editor his junior year and editor-in-chief his senior year. He also received an internship his sophomore year with the The Scripps Howard Foundation/Scripps Howard News Service.
Elliott said that having real deadlines for information was very important, helping him succeed early in his career.
“The more you write, the better you become at it,” said Elliott. “I got as much experience at The Post [as I’ve gotten at] every other job I’ve worked in.”
Elliott recognizes not only the education Ohio University offers, but also the connections students are able to make.
“One of the many great things about Ohio University is that you have a phenomenal school, and rich student media opportunities,” Elliott said. “Every job I’ve had was through an Ohio University connection.”