Death of columnist Susan Watson loss to journalism community

The journalism world lost one of its best over the weekend when word arrived that Susan Watson had passed on Saturday.

Watson, a reporter, editor and finally a renowned columnist for the Detroit Free Press, was 76. She died from complications from sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that affects the lungs.

She worked for the Free Press for about 30 years, following graduation from the University of Michigan in 1965. She was among the first female columnists for the Free Press and, indeed, was the first female editor at the publication. Adept at serving up truth especially on matters related to race and gender, in her column for many years. She was inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame in 2000.

According to the online site Deadline Detroit, she began her career at the paper as a general assignment reporter covering welfare, real estate redlining and discriminatory pricing by auto insurers. A decade later, Watson became assistant city editor and special projects editor, organizing investigations on public schools, health care programs and government fraud, her bio said. She also coordinated and edited an award-winning series, “Blacks in Detroit.”

She earned many awards, including several from AP and UPI for columns and the Heywood Broun Award for a year-long investigation into the abuse of developmentally disabled youths in a state facility. She also was honored with the Knight Ridder National Excellence Award in News/Editorial and given three Emmys for local television commentary. She is a member of Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame, Deadline Detroit reported.

In many ways, Watson was a trailblazer for modern journalists. Known for her work ethic and dedication to the truth, she was a powerful voice for the disadvantaged and underserved.

She will be sorely missed.


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