A tribute to Judy Watts

  • Wednesday, January 22, 2014

To The Editor:

When I was a 15-year-old part-time sportswriter at the Goose Creek Gazette in 1998, I wrote a column critical of a youth sports umpire who made an egregious error and cost a local team a berth into the state tournament. A week later, I was attempting to cover another tournament and the same umpire was working the game. I was ejected as I walked into the park.

I learned valuable lessons that day. One lesson was how powerful the pen could be. What I wrote Ė even if it seemed as insignificant as a column about a youth baseball game Ė had an effect on people. The second lesson I learned came from Judy Watts. Defend your staff. Defend good journalism. Stand up for the truth.

I learned many other valuable lessons from Judy, but none were as important as the overall understanding of how to be a journalist. To be a good journalist, you canít be scared of subjects, you canít shy away from the truth, and you canít compromise your ethics and integrity.

Iím the editor of a daily newspaper in Hickory, N.C., and Iíve been fortunate to have great mentors along the way who have helped guide and shape my career. But Judy taught me how to be a journalist, and away from work Ė amid my family strife Ė how to be a better person.

Judy retired Jan. 10, and the newspaper industry will be poorer because of her departure from this crazy business. But Summerville, Goose Creek, Moncks Corner and all of the Lowcountry benefited from her time telling stories and shooting photos.

As the newspaper industry struggles to find its identity, Judy will always be a reminder of the biggest asset we have in our profession. She was gifted and talented, she maintained her ethics and she cared about the product she was producing. She told the stories of a community and of her own life. I wish her the best in the next chapter of hers.

Scott J. Bryan

Hickory, N.C.

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