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Julie Watts

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Julie Watts is a national-award-winning investigative journalist who is dedicated to holding the powerful accountable, getting answers, and digging deeper into the issues that matter to you.

Julie's work has prompted FDA recalls, state and federal investigations, and laws to protect families and taxpayers.    

In addition to being the investigative reporter, Julie is a News Anchor and Meteorologist (AMS) at CBS Sacramento.

Her investigative reports also air on the CBS stations in San Francisco and Los Angeles and are often distributed nationwide.

Notable Work

The 13-time Emmy® Award-winning journalist has also been honored with many prestigious national journalism awards including a Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi award and multiple National Press Club, National Headliner, and Gracie awards. Julie's work has also garnered more than a dozen regional awards including Associated Press and Edward R. Murrow Awards.

Most recently, Julie was honored with a National Press Club Award and an Emmy® Award for THE COVID LAB: State Secrets Exposed. The 14-month investigation was prompted by whistleblowers inside California's $1.7B COVID testing lab. The reporting led to state and federal investigations, two new pieces of legislation, and shined a spotlight on shocking public health failures that it appeared state regulators tried to hide.

In 2021, Julie received an Emmy® Award for her investigation into "State-Sponsored Identity Theft."  The five-year investigation held the state's unemployment agency (EDD) accountable for putting millions at risk of identity theft. The reporting prompted a joint legislative hearing, a state audit, and a new law.

Julie first exposed the issue while working at CBS in San Francisco and she was previously honored with an Edward R. Murrow Award for her early reporting on the issue.

Julie was also the recipient of an Emmy® Award and an Edward R. Murrow Award in 2020 for her reporting on the California Highway Patrol's failure to respond to DUI 911 calls and a National Headliner Award for her investigation into the financial impact of new cell towers near schools.

In 2020, Julie received an Emmy® Award for "Troubling Water: The Ripon Child Cancer Investigation."  After four children were diagnosed with cancer at one school, parents initially blamed a cell tower on campus. Then, the CBS13 investigation revealed a history of cancer-causing chemicals in the city's water, exposed glaring errors and omissions in city water reports, and uncovered evidence that the school district knew about the chemicals in school drinking water but failed to tell parents.

In 2016, Julie's "Toxic Safety" investigation into car seat flame retardants prompted multiple recalls and led to significant changes within the child car seat industry. The investigation was honored with the National Gracie Award for Best Investigative Feature, the National Press Club's Award for Consumer Journalism, and the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service.

Julie also won a National Gracie Award for her investigation into California's Newborn DNA Database and a National Headliner Award for her child ID theft investigation, "Toddler Has a Credit Card." That investigation also prompted a new state law in 2016.

In 2014, the investigative series "UN-Covered California" earned Julie her first National Press Club Award for Consumer Journalism. The reports exposed numerous flaws within California's health insurance exchange and prompted action by state regulators and changes within the insurance industry.

History

Prior to her role as investigative reporter/anchor at CBS in Sacramento, Julie spent a decade at CBS in San Francisco as the station's Consumer-Investigative Reporter and a contributing reporter for CBS News where her stories were distributed to CBS stations across the country.

Julie was also a news anchor and Meteorologist (AMS) at KPIX. She was named Best News Anchor by the Associated Press for her role as anchor and host of the KPIX weekend morning show and she won the American Meteorological Society's prestigious award for "Excellence in Science Reporting by a Broadcast Meteorologist" while at KPIX.

Prior to that, Julie earned her meteorology credentials (AMS Seal) from the American Meteorological Society while working at KCRA 3 in Sacramento. In addition to weekend weather, she covered everything from cooking segments to creepy critters while hosting the "KCRA Noon Show Live from the Arden Fair Mall."

Nationally, Julie appeared as a host on TLC's "Designing Spaces" and was an entertainment reporter/producer for BBC & Reuters-TV in Los Angeles.

Julie began her news career as a Traffic Anchor, Weather Anchor, and Reporter for CBS-47 in Fresno. She was also the voice of news and traffic each morning on the Central Valley's Clear Channel radio stations.

Julie earned a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and an M.A. in Online Journalism from the University of Southern California. At her USC commencement ceremony, she was named Graduate Student of the Year.

Off Air

In an effort to tell stories that might not otherwise be told, Julie often finds herself behind the camera. She shoots, edits, and produces special projects while traveling overseas. Her work as a Multi-Media/Video Journalist (MMJ/VJ) has taken her from Sierra Leone to India and has also won several awards.

Outside of work, Julie is active in several non-profits and has spent more than a decade on the Board of Governors for the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS). As the Emmy® Awards Chair and Gala Chair, Julie oversaw the regional Emmy® Awards competition for several years. Julie has also planned and produced five Emmy® Awards galas over the past 10 years, including the first-ever virtual Emmy® Awards ceremony in 2020, which was used as a template for other NATAS regional ceremonies throughout the pandemic.

Julie was born and raised in the Bay Area but met and married her husband while working in Sacramento the first time around. After nearly a decade in San Francisco, they were thrilled to return to the Sacramento area in 2019 to raise their family.

NewsMom

When Julie is not investigative reporting on TV she's "investigative moming" online. Julie is the Mom of two (three if you count her dog-ter) and she is the founder of NewsMom.com.

Julie goes by NewsMom on social media where she shares how she's using the knowledge and resources she's developed as an investigative reporter to navigate life as a mom. Through a combination of #MomLife posts on Instagram and #NewsYouCanUse on Facebook, Julie prides herself on investigating the topics and products that most moms would investigate… if they had the investigative resources.

13 Questions With... Julie Watts:

  1. Where did you grow up? San Jose (but I met and married my husband in Sac, moved back to the Bay for 10 years and now we've returned to raise our family here).
  2. What is your ideal scenario for a day off? Sleeping in and snuggling with my hubby & the kids, then church, a family lunch and a playdate with friends. Or… Deep-diving into a pile of documents searching for that needle in the haystack for my latest investigation… WHILE enjoying a sunny day by the pool or at the park with my hubby and kids.
  3. How did you decide to be a reporter/anchor? It's all I've ever wanted to do. I started "anchoring" the morning announcements in high school, then earned my BA in Broadcast Journalism and my MA in Online Journalism at USC. There was never any other option.
  4. What was your favorite toy growing up? TV
  5. Where is your favorite local place to eat? Our family faves are New Glory in Granite Bay, the Loomis Basin Gastropub, and Sienna in Roseville (formerly Crush 29).
  6. Do you have any pets? My Dog-ter, Allie, is my first born. She's a 13-year-old Bichon Frise – Poodle mix (whom my kids refer as their sister).
  7. What is your favorite social media platform? Facebook. I have two pages for my two respective worlds. @JulieWattsTV is my official reporter page where I share CBS investigations and career-related posts. @NewsMomDotCom is my alter ego where I focus on "investigative parenting" and share research & links that are relevant to families (along with the occasional mommy meme from my life as #NewsMom).
  8. If you didn't work in TV news what would you be doing? I'd probably be a lawyer… or I'd be running an investigative journalism non-profit that focuses on topics related to protecting families and kids.
  9. What is the most memorable story you've covered at CBS13/CW31? Our "Toxic Safety" investigation into car seat flame retardants and our "Toddler Has a Credit Card" investigation into Child Credit Freezes are two of my favorites. Each prompted new legislation and had a lasting impact on their respective industries. I'm also very proud of our "UN-Covered California" investigation, which exposed numerous flaws in California's health insurance exchange, and our "California Confidential" investigation, which exposed how the state's largest agency is putting millions at risk of ID theft. Each of those investigations forced action by state regulators and prompted significant changes.
  10. What is your favorite season? Fall. I love the weather, the colors, and the kick-off of the holiday season.
  11. Who is the fellow reporter/anchor you text the most? Call Kurtis because… well… "call" is in his name (and he's been a close friend of mine for years).
  12. When do you wake up on a workday? Weekend? Between 4am and 5pm on weekdays… between 5am and 6pm on weekends. (gotta get stuff done before the kids are up!)
  13. Why do you love Northern California? It's home. You can't beat the weather. And, I'm a Nor Cal Girl, born and raised.
  14. Where was your best vacation ever? Now, post-kids? Disneyland, of course. Pre-kids? Italy. I studied abroad in college and had the opportunity to travel across Europe. Rome has always been my favorite city. However, on one particular vacation back to Italy with my husband, Dad, Stepmom and Sister, we got lost in the Tuscan countryside and it was absolutely magical.
  15. Favorite sport to watch in person? On TV? Football, both in person and on TV. I grew up in the Bay, so the 9ers will always be my team… but my hubby is originally from Chicago so the Bears are a family fave.
  16. Favorite TV show? Movie? These days we watch a lot of Disney. Descendants, The Zombie Movies, and random kids' Netflix shows are always on in my house. After the kids go to bed, we've been binging Hulu min-docs & scripted shows based on news. I loved The Drop Out, which was based on the Elizabeth Holmes Theranos scandal because there was a lot of crossover into my recent investigation into California's $1.7B troubled COVID testing lab.

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