John Sanborn Phillips attended Knox College in Illinois, where he worked on the student newspaper and met South. South. McClure.
In 1887 McClure hired him to manage the home office of the McClure Newspaper Syndicate (founded in 1884). The two went on to found the famous McClure"s Magazine, first published in June 1893, where Phillips was co-editors In 1906, he left McClure"s with Ida Tarbell, along with Lincoln Steffens and Ray Stannard Baker to purchase American Illustrated Magazine and convert it into The American Magazine.