Mark Watts (journalist)

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Mark Watts is the former editor-in-chief of the investigative news website Exaro.[1]

He was nominated for the European Press Prize Editor of the Year for 2012. The nomination described Exaro as "an insightful, agenda setting website." It credited the site for its "serious investigative journalism" saying "this is not standard, not-for-profit journalism, but document-based, niche performance at a high level of expertise."[2]

In an interview with The Guardian in October 2012 he said he wanted to bring investigative techniques back into the heart of news gathering operations. He told the Guardian's John Plunkett there is an "increasing feeling both in broadcasting and in newspapers that [investigative journalism] wasn't worth the resources, that it takes too much time and money and the readership was not that interested... most journalists spend their time rewriting press releases and wire copy."[3]


Watts started his career at the Hull Daily Mail in 1988. He later joined the Sunday Express, before making a move into television to work on The Big Story for ITV in 1994. He went on to make documentaries for Yorkshire Television and World in Action before returning to print media in 1997.[3] From 1997–2001 he was head of investigations for Sunday Business.[4][5]

In 2001, Watts founded the FOIA Centre, which specialises in research using 'open-access' laws.[6]

Watts later hosted the live daily news show "Between the Headlines" on Press TV, in which he invited politicians, senior journalists and commentators to join him in reviewing the day's newspapers.

He is the author of The Fleet Street Sewer Rat (2005), an investigative book which describes the scavenging techniques used by bin raider Benji Pell.[7][8] Nick Davies, a journalist from The Guardian, attended the Leveson Inquiry as a witness and described The Fleet Street Sewer Rat as "the best single source, hugely detailed, of information about the dark arts of journalism."[9]

In July 2014, LBC talk radio presenter James O'Brien told Watts on air that "the door to his studio was always open" if Watts ever wanted to talk about Exaro's investigations on air. He made the offer during a half-hour interview with Watts about a recent Exaro investigation into organised child sex abuse.[10]


  • Mark Watts (2005), The Fleet Street Sewer Rat, Artnik


  1. ^ Exaro
  2. ^ European Press Prize website 2012 shortlist
  3. ^ a b Plunkett, John (1 October 2012). "How Mark Watts of Exaro aims to return to Fleet Street's golden age". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  4. ^ USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review, 25 March 1999, Transatlantic Brawl!
  5. ^ Mark Watts, New Statesman, 26 July 1999, Who really influences new Labour?
  6. ^ "Mark Watts, Editor, Exaro". Society of Editors. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  7. ^ Sunday Times, 13 March 2005, Secrets of a Fleet Street rubbish man
  8. ^ Mark Watts, Press Gazette, 15 April 2005, How the Fleet Street sewer rat caused a stink for privacy laws
  9. ^ Transcript Leveson Inquiry into Press Standards, 29 November 2011
  10. ^ LBC radio interview 4 July 2014

External links[edit]