Phil Williams headshot

Phil Williams


NewsChannel 5 Chief Investigative Reporter

Phil Williams is chief investigative reporter for NewsChannel 5's nationally award-winning investigative team.

To gauge Phil's impact, consider this quote from a prominent Nashville political strategist: "If the press calls, call your PR person. If Phil Williams calls, call your lawyer because you're in trouble." That statement, of course, is an exaggeration. (Phil's really a nice guy.) Still, it shows how he's made a big difference in this place he calls home.

For more than three decades, Phil has set the standard for serious investigative journalism on the state and local level, making a difference in his community year after year and earning him the industry’s highest honors and praise from his peers.

Phil is the 2023 recipient of the prestigious John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism, which is presented each year to a reporter with courage, character and integrity for cumulative professional accomplishments. Phil is the first local television journalist to ever receive the honor. In addition, Phil is a four-time recipient of the prestigious duPont-Columbia Award and a three-time recipient of the George Foster Peabody Award.

He is the only TV journalist to ever receive a coveted Toner Prize for political reporting.

Beginning his career as a print reporter, Phil was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

In 2020, a Washington Post media critic listed Phil’s work as one of the “flickers of hope for local journalism.” Reviewing one of Phil’s most recent projects, one judge declared: “This is what a great local news investigation looks like."

Another observed, "I’m blown away by these pieces and will be using them to teach.”

Phil’s hard-hitting, exhaustive journalism has resulted in him being repeatedly listed among the most influential people in Nashville and the state of Tennessee.

Born in Columbia, Tennessee, Phil moved to Nashville in his teen years. An honors graduate from Middle Tennessee State University, Phil frequently speaks to journalism students about his passion for investigative reporting.

Career Summary:

Chief Investigative Reporter, WTVF-TV, Nashville -- 1998 to present

Investigative Reporter, WKRN-TV, Nashville – 1992-1998

Reporter, The Tennessean, Nashville – 1986-1992

Reporter, Florida Today, Nashville – 1985-1986

Former board member, Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) – Conceived and led effort to create the Don Bolles Medal to recognize investigative journalists who have demonstrated extraordinary courage in standing up against intimidation or efforts to suppress the truth about matters of public importance

Major Awards:

John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism, duPont-Columbia Award (four-time recipient), George Foster Peabody Award (three-time recipient, two-time finalist), Toner Prize for Local Political Reporting (first TV journalist to receive a Toner Prize), numerous National Headliner Awards, Hillman Prize for Broadcast Journalism, George Polk Award for TV Reporting, Scripps-Howard Award, IRE Medal, Goldsmith Award finalist, Pulitzer Prize finalist, national Emmy and numerous regional Emmys


Repeatedly listed on the Nashville Post magazine's "In Charge" list of the people shaping life in Middle Tennessee, previously listed on the now-defunct Business Tennessee’s “Power 100” list of the most powerful people in the state

Recent stories by Phil

480x360 Hug no graphics.png

Care what happens