Julie Watts is the “CBS13 Investigates” reporter. Her stories air Monday-Friday on CBS13 News.
Julie’s work has prompted FDA recalls, federal investigations and laws to protect consumers. As the “CBS13 Investigates” reporter, she is dedicated to holding the powerful accountable, getting answers and digging deeper into the issues that matter to you.
Her reports also regularly air on the CBS stations in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The 12-time Emmy® award-winning journalist has also been honored with many prestigious national awards.
Most recently, Julie received a 2021 Emmy® Award for “State-Sponsored Identity Theft.” The five-year investigation holds the state 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 in 2020 — just as the agency’s systemic failures amid the pandemic proved how crucial the new law was.
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 also 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.
One of Julie’s most notable series was her “Toxic Safety” investigation into car seat flame retardants which 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 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 which prompted action by state regulators and changes within the insurance industry.
Prior to her role as investigative reporter/anchor at CBS in Sacramento, Julie spent nearly 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.
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 a M.A. in Online Journalism from the University of Southern California. At her USC commencement ceremony, she was named Graduate Student of the Year.
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 won several awards.
Outside of work, Julie is active in several non-profits and has spent the better part of a decade on the Board of Governors for the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS). Julie was the Emmy® Awards and Gala Chair for several years where she oversaw the regional Emmy® Award competition & ceremony. In 2020, Julie produced the first-ever virtual Emmy® Awards ceremony 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 are thrilled to return to the Sacramento area to raise their family.
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:
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- What was your favorite toy growing up? TV
- Where is your favorite local place to eat? 10 years ago it was Crush 29. Now that we’re back we’ll still getting the lay of the land. Got any recommendations?
- 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).
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- What is your favorite season? Fall. I love the weather, the colors and the kick-off of the holiday season.
- 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).
- 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!)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Favorite TV show? Movie? These days we watch a lot of Disney and Barbie movies… so Moana, Descendants, The Zombie Movie and “Barbie and the Rockin’ Royals” are my picks if I get to choose. (clearly I like musicals) TV show? I don’t really have time for TV anymore. #NewsMomLife