Joseph Becker Phillips, 77, a retired Foreign Service officer and former newspaper reporter and magazine editor, died of multiple myeloma Tuesday at Sibley Memorial Hospital.

He had been with the State Department from 1950 until retiring in 1965. Before that, he had been associated with Newsweek magazine and the old New York Herald Tribune.

Born in Paducah, Ky., Mr. Phillips was a graduate of Virginia Military Institute and attended the School of Journalism at Columbia University.

After working for several years as a reporter on The Paducah News Democrat and the old Washington Herald here, he joined the staff of the New York Herald Tribune in 1926. For the next 11 years, he worked in New York and in the newspaper's Paris, London, Rome and Moscow bureaus.

Mr. Phillips the served as foreign editor of Newsweek magazine from 1937 to 1941, when he was named managing editor.

During World War II as an Army colonel, he was chief public relations officer to Gen. Eisenhower in the North African campaign, director of public relations communications at SHAEF and special assistant in charge of the information section of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

From 1945 to 1950, Mr. Phillips was a member of Newsweek's editorial board and the author of a column on European affairs. He also lectured widely.

Two years after joining the State Department, he was named deputy assistant secretary of State for public affairs. From 1954 to 1957, he was director of public affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Bonn, Germany.

He then was director of information for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Paris and assistant director of European programs for the U.S. Information Agency.

Mr. Phillips' last assignment from 1961 until his retirement in 1965 was that of director of public affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Rome.

After his retirement, he became executive director of the Committee on Atlantic Studies of the Atlantic Council of the United States.

His decorations included the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Order of the British Empire and Knight-Commander in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.

He is survived by his wife, Dorothy Nutt Bell Phillips of the home in Washington, and a sister, Mrs. Stanley D. Petter of Paducah.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Foreign Service Scholarship Fund.