Phillips grew up in Essex and first worked as a reporter for the Harlow Star Weekly Newspaper. She then attended the University of Leeds where she took a secondment for a year as the editor of the student newspaper (the Leeds Student, now called the Gryphon). She then worked for the Evening Argus in Brighton, Connors News Agency and Woman before joining Trinity Mirror (now Reach) in 1998 as a feature writer on the Sunday People magazine.
In 2016 Phillips launched The New Day, a national newspaper which aimed to deliver politically neutral news, primarily for a female audience. It was a controversial launch, drawing scepticism from media commentators. The new venture failed to reach target circulation and was closed two months after its launch. Later that year she was made Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Trinity Mirror papers
In 2018 Phillips was named as the Editor of the Daily Mirror, making her its first female editor since its very first editor in 1903, Mary Howarth. She often writes and speaks about gender equality and the gender pay gap, including at her own company.
She is a regular media commentator, often appearing on programmes such as BBC Politics Live and ITV's This Morning. In June 2018. she was a guest on BBC Question Time, declaring that the Brexit negotiations had made Britain "a global laughing stock".
In 2018 she was named a “Columnist of the Year” at the National Press Awards, for her weekly Wednesday column in the Daily Mirror. The column often covers working-class family issues from a broadly left-wing perspective. Under her editorship, the Daily Mirror's stance on Brexit has been critical of the Conservative government, but has remained opposed to calls for a second referendum.
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- Twitter, Freddy Mayhew (2016-05-13). "Former The New Day editor Alison Phillips appointed deputy editor-in-chief of Mirror titles". Press Gazette. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
- InPublishing. "Editorial changes at Mirror, Express and Star". www.inpublishing.co.uk. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
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- "BBC Two - Politics Live, 15/02/2019". BBC. Retrieved 2019-03-05.
- "Is posting boasting?". www.itv.com. Retrieved 2019-03-05.
- "BBC Question Time". en-gb.facebook.com. Retrieved 2019-03-05.
- "Winners of National Press Awards announced by Jessie Sampson". www.newsworks.org.uk. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
- "Alison Phillips - Mirror Online". www.mirror.co.uk. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
- Greenslade, Roy (2018-09-30). "Why the Daily Mirror is having to tread a Brexit tightrope | Roy Greenslade". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-03-06.