Lisa Watson McCarty, publisher, Scott County Virginia Star

Please introduce yourself.

I am Lisa Watson McCarty, publisher of the Scott County Virginia Star, located in Gate City, Va. My husband, Rex, and I purchased the newspaper in 1993.

Tell us a little bit about your newspaper.

We are a rural community weekly that serves Scott County, Va. While we aren’t The New York Times or The Washington Post, we are proudly known as the “county paper” to local residents. We have approximately 6,000 circulation and are the source for most local residents’ news about their neighbors, local government and sports teams.

Why did you choose a newspaper career?

My late father, Don Watson, began working for Worrell Newspapers the year I was born (1961) and we moved from our native Virginia in 1970 to Sterling, Colorado. The family returned to Virginia in 1982 when my family purchased the Powell Valley News in Lee County, Virginia. I guess you could say I went into the family business.

While I was studying accounting at a local college, I had a night class in business law that was taught by a judge. I remember one assignment for the class was an oral presentation dealing with business ethics. At the time, Lee County was having issues with its solid waste collection so I used that story as my assignment. The judge gave me an A and recommended that I never become an accountant because he said I clearly loved telling a story.

Is there one story that you are particularly proud of? What was it about and what impact did it have on your readers?

I have written numerous articles from the local board of supervisors to football games and features, but I am most proud of a series of articles I composed during a trip to China to visit my son and daughter-in-law, who were serving in the Peace Corps. I had so much information from that journey that I ended up writing five articles to cover our adventures. Even today, I still have people come up to me at the grocery store or post office and ask when are we going on another trip like that because they loved reading about the different culture.

We also laid out our newspaper while we were in China, which is not an easy feat to do. We had to use a VPN to get around the censored sites like Dropbox, Facebook, etc. but we did it.

What is your view of the importance of a newspaper to the community it covers?

We are the only source for much of the news that happens in our community. The local daily newspaper has been reduced to a very small staff and really can’t report most of what happens in our area. That is to our advantage because we live here, we vote here and we are involved here in Scott County.

We don’t have an opinion page because we are far too small and everyone is related, but we always tell both sides of any story and let our readers come to their own conclusions.

What are some of the challenges facing your newspaper today?

While technology has helped us a great deal, keeping up with trends is definitely a difficult task. We have a small staff – in fact, I laughingly tell people that I pretty much do everything – which is the truth. The ability to find and train excellent employees who want to stay is also hard, but we’ve been more fortunate than most.

The national trends of declining circulation and loss of advertising revenue hasn’t affected us as much as daily newspapers but the responsibility to produce a newspaper each week still falls mainly on me.

Tell us something that most people may not know about you? 

I am a licensed real estate agent in Virginia and Tennessee and am very interested in history, so much so that I became a member of the Carter’s Fort chapter Daughters of the American Revolution and the Elijah Cross II chapter United States Daughters of 1812.