Skip to main content

George Watson papers

Identifier: urn:taro:utexas.cah.03925

Scope and Contents

News report transcripts, ABC News and CNN press materials, photographs, press badges, newspaper clippings, books, and correspondence document the career of George Watson. ABC News television and radio report transcripts and field notes cover Watson's reporting of locations including the Soviet Union, England, and Washington, D.C. The collection also includes film and VHS video clips of Watson's broadcasts, personal photographs taken of the countries Watson visted while reporting, and other news reporters or cameramen. The newspaper clippings are articles written by Watson or articles written about Watson's foreign reports. The press badges include police credentials, White House and Congressional access, special media events, and membership cards to the National Press Club, the Overseas Press Club, Society of Professional Journalists, and the Committee to Protect Journalists. Books included in the collection cite Watson's work as a journalist and include two memoirs written by Watson about his career as a journalist.


  • Creation: 1955 - 2017


Conditions Governing Access

A portion of this collection is stored remotely. Advance notice required for retrieval. Contact repository for retrieval.

A portion of this collection is restricted; contact repository for more information.

Access to some audiovisual formats requires an appointment; contact repository for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no use restrictions on this collection. Publisher is responsible for complying with copyright law.

Biographical Note

Journalist George Watson (1936-2023), who worked as a television correspondent, broadcast producer, and network executive for more than 40 years, retired as vice president of ABC News and was then its longest-serving Washington bureau chief. While attending Harvard College, he was managing editor of the Harvard Crimson and graduated with honors in American History and Literature. After attending Harvard, Watson became a reporter for the Detroit News and left to attend the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. After graduating from Columbia University, Watson joined the Washington Post as a reporter.

In 1962, he began his career in broadcasting at ABC News in Washington, D.C., where he worked as a writer for the radio broadcast "Edward P. Morgan and the News." Between 1965-1968, he was an ABC News correspondent and was shortly thereafter named correspondent and bureau chief in Moscow. On special assignment in 1968 and 1970, Watson covered some of the heaviest fighting in Vietnam and Cambodia. Watson was named chief correspondent and bureau chief in London in 1970. For the next six years, he covered major news events around the world from his base in Britain, including President Nixon's trip to Moscow, the Middle East war of 1973, and the conflict in Northern Ireland. His ABC News special "Terror in Northern Ireland" won an Overseas Press Club Award for Best Foreign Affairs Documentary. While in London, he was president of the Association of American Correspondents.

After ten years overseas as a foreign correspondent, Watson returned to Washington, D.C. in 1975 as ABC's White House correspondent. In 1976, he moved into network news management and was named a vice president and Washington bureau chief. In 1980, Watson left ABC News to become vice president and managing editor of the Cable News Network (CNN), where he was engaged in its launch and early development. Watson was the executive-in-charge of political party convention coverage, and reported on-air during CNN's first political convention in 1980. He also moderated three one-hour interview programs on a weekly basis for the new network.

Watson returned to ABC News in 1981 and served for the next four years as vice president of ABC News in New York. He was the first network executive responsible for overseeing the policies, standards, and practices that apply to news programs. In that capacity he developed and produced "Viewpoint," a program designed to provide a forum for viewer criticism of ABC News in particular and broadcast journalism in general. During his supervision of "Viewpoint," the program won every major award in broadcasting, including an Emmy, the George Foster Peabody Award, and the duPont-Columbia Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism.

In 1985 Watson returned to Washington for his second tour there as vice president and bureau chief. During his tenure, he was heavily involved in the conflict between the press and the Pentagon over war coverage; with the Supreme Court over early release decisions; in the creation of "Nightline;" in Congressional hearings about election coverage, exit polls, and the timing the broadcast of election results; and with the coverage of the war with Iraq over its invasion of Kuwait.

Watson was a director of the Committee to Protect Journalists for more than a decade, from 1982-1993. He formally retired as bureau chief in 1993 and for the next eight years, returned to on-air broadcasting as senior contributing editor, supplying commentary and analysis for both radio and the network's late night broadcast, "World News Now."

George Watson married Ellen Havican Bradley, and they together had two children, Ellen Havican Watson and George Henry Watson III. Watson died June 1, 2023.


23.25 Linear Feet

Language of Materials







News report transcripts, ABC News and CNN press materials, photographs, press badges, newspaper clippings, books, correspondence, and videos document the career of George Watson.

Organization and Arrangement

The George Watson Papers are arranged by the creator's original order and subject matter.

Accession Number(s)

2016-270; 2016-317; 2017-112; 2018-069

Separated Materials

Scrapbooks containing lapel pins collected from the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, and various events attended by Watson were separated to the Material Culture Unit.

Some books have been separated from the collection. Books series contains photocopies of pages that mention Watson as well as title pages and any relevant inscriptions.

OCLC Number


Processing Information

This collection was processed by Selena Aleman and Jennifer Allen, January 2017. Subsequent revisions by Colleen Hobbs, April 2018 and October 2019.

George Watson Papers, 1955-2017
Ready To Publish
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2018-04-01: This collection was processed by Selena Aleman and Jennifer Allen, January 2017. Subsequent accessions added by Colleen Hobbs, April 2018.
  • October 2019: Barcodes added for additional boxes sent to LSF.

Repository Details

Part of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History Repository

2300 Red River Street
Austin TX 78712