NLPeople: DeMario Phipps-Smith, senior manager of community learning


DeMario Phipps-Smith

1. What led you to the news literacy movement? 

While completing my master’s program, one of my professors tasked me with following newsletters from organizations doing unique things in journalism and news. One of the newsletters I followed was The Sift®. Instantly, I resonated with NLP’s mission and work. I knew it would be a great place to work if I ever got the opportunity.

2. What news literacy tip, tool or guidance do you most often use?

When having productive conversations about misinformation, it’s important to remember P.E.P. You need PATIENCE to understand these conversations take time, EMPATHY to respect other’s knowledge and beliefs and PERSISTENCE to keep up the conversation even when things get tough.

3. Since you joined NLP, what has been your most surprising or satisfying experience?

Having the opportunity to speak at the Obama Foundation Democracy Forum was certainly one of my most cherished experiences at NLP. It was an honor to represent the organization on such a prominent platform, and I got a chance to meet the former president.

4.  You said that you’re committed to helping amplify the voices of marginalized communities. Can you talk a little more about that?

I was drawn to journalism because I grew up in a neighborhood in Chicago where Black and Brown people often feel their stories and truths aren’t being depicted accurately in the media. In my current role, I am particularly passionate about helping to bring news literacy training opportunities to marginalized communities to help them combat misinformation — which has disproportionately affected many of these communities.

5. Aside from fighting for facts, what else are you passionate about?

I’m a huge sports fan (Bulls, Bears, White Sox… I know, pray for me). I enjoy live events like catching a Bears game or going to see a band perform at my local bar. I’m also a  big foodie, and Chicago has so many great restaurants that I’m excited to try!

6. Are you on team dog, team cat, team wombat?

I’m a fan of most pets, and I side more with team doggo… but currently, I do not have a pet.

7. And finally, what item do you always have in your fridge?

A pack of purified water. I can’t stand tap water, and water is like the most essential part of our diets. Good water is good for your health.

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