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Life through the lens. For more than 20 years I have been fortunate enough to be a member of the WHNT News 19 family. The best part, I’ve been able to do so in the area I grew up in – “The Shoals”. A Florence native, I attended Florence City Schools and graduated from Coffee High School before attending the University of North Alabama (Roar Lions!).

In high school the photography bug latched on and I learned the craft of still photography and developing pictures while working on the yearbook staff. Those skills evolved into an interest in videography and journalism while in college. I had a family member working in the news industry at the time, so I was able to tag along to events and get the behind the scenes culture.

Nearing the end of my college career, I landed my first television job at WOWL TV-15 in Florence. At the time, the station produced two newscasts a day and was the Shoals NBC affiliate. I learned everything from running master control to teleprompter, shooting news video and honing my skills of editing and writing. There’s nothing like the first television job and being exposed to all facets of the building.

After my time at WOWL, I packed up my car and headed to Tupelo, MS for a photographer position with WTVA News 9. While there, I built my skills of photography and editing. Covering most of north Mississippi, I was exposed to all sorts of news events, validating my decision of making this a career I would love.

Months after arriving in Mississippi, WHNT News 19 called me home. Starting as an editor/photographer in Huntsville, I quickly proved myself and was promoted to the position of photographer in the Shoals Bureau. While working in the bureau I have had the chance to work with many distinguished journalists and received numerous state awards from my peers.

Telling the story of our residents in the Shoals is what makes each and every day so fulfilling for me. Which is why in December of 2015, I decided to move from behind the camera and begin reporting full time as Shoals Bureau Chief for WHNT News 19. This was a step of faith, and so far I have loved it. Our residents and viewers here have been so supportive in this new role, which makes me wonder why I didn’t do it sooner.

If you ever have a story idea, please reach out to me through one of several ways. You can email me at, or contact me through social media. My official Facebook page is “Carter Watkins WHNT” or on Twitter at “WHNT Shoals”.

What do I enjoy away from work? I love Jesus, wood-working, home projects, nature and theatre. My family and I are active members of Faith Church in Florence. I also volunteer with the Gingerbread Players of the Shoals Theatre (a children’s theatre group).

Recent Articles
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    Attorney blocks UNA request to assess Florence Middle School property

    FLORENCE, Ala. – An attorney representing the Florence city school system has denied UNA the opportunity to appraise and survey land which is set aside for a new middle school. We’ve been combing over a response letter from the school system attorney, who alleges UNA is attempting to begin a condemnation process. There has been a series of letters exchanged between UNA and school board attorneys in the last few days. The latest is a four-page response letter by the […]

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    NW-SCC adds partnership to benefit welding students after graduation

    MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. – The career path for a skilled welder leaving the Northwest-Shoals Community College program just got a bit easier. Students completing the program will have the opportunity to walk into an apprenticeship program. “They’re not going to have to hunt a job as much and it’s not going to be as hard because they’ve got an opportunity laying there waiting on them. All they have to do is just step right into it,” stated Lin Liles, a […]

  • Former Russellville Mayor Johnny Brown

    Former Russellville Mayor passes away; city remembers Johnny Brown

    RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. – By order of a mayoral declaration, the American Flag outside of city hall had been lowered to half-staff. Mayor David Grissom said Russellville lost a great public servant Thursday with the passing of Johnny Brown. “He was the common man,” stated Grissom. “You were likely to see him working with the street department when he was Mayor, out behind the truck when the bad weather came.” Mayor Grissom said he knew Brown since he was a child. […]

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    Florence man fakes serious injury to propose to his girlfriend

    FLORENCE, Ala. – It’s one of the most pressure-filled moments in a man’s life – the marriage proposal. Well, one Florence man went to the extreme to surprise his soon-to-be fiancée, who is a nurse. The whole ploy spread across social media like the flu and has become a hit. “Are we on? Alright we are on Facebook Live and this is the proposal for Bonnie,” Joshua Cochran said to the phone camera as he sat on an emergency room […]

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    Police seek identity of Florence theft suspect

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Police are trying to identify a theft suspect in this week’s Shoals Area Crime Stoppers report. Investigators said the card was used several times before being deactivated. It’s not the best video, but it’s all Florence police could get. The suspect seen in the clip is using a stolen credit card at Foodland on Cox Creek Parkway. Investigators said the man stole the card and went around to several stores buying liquor and snacks. He didn’t ring […]

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    County moves busy polling place from Florence school

    FLORENCE, Ala. – It’s a decision which came pretty easy for leaders in Lauderdale County. County commissioners have voted to move one of the county’s largest polling places away from an elementary school. Words can’t describe the frustration voters have felt trying to cast their ballots at Forest Hills Elementary in Florence. “Anyone who has been to Forest Hills Elementary School knows that on a normal day the traffic is bad. And when you throw voting into the mix, it […]

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    Russellville High holds largest blood donation event in three states

    RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. – Coming out of a dangerously low supply of blood, a community in northwest Alabama is doing their share to help the Red Cross. Organizers call it the largest single blood drive at a high school in three states. It’s a gymnasium turned donation center. The home of the Golden Tigers basketball team was lined with tables on Wednesday. “We hit social media, we called people, we went out to the community, and we have hung flyers everywhere […]

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    Community supporting hospitalized Florence Firefighter

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A fireman in the Shoals is in the fight of his life this evening, and the community is right behind him. For six grueling days, Florence Firefighter Kevin Darby has been hospitalized, and now he is in a medically induced coma at UAB. Tuesday morning would have been Darby’s normal time to report for duty as a firefighter. Instead, his turn-outs remain stowed away. “It’s been a lot of ups and downs for them. There’s a lot […]

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    Inmate rips handgun from deputy inside Lauderdale County Courtroom

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Authorities said it was a situation which could have turned deadly inside the Lauderdale County Courthouse Monday afternoon. Monday’s afternoon docket in Judge Carole Medley’s courtroom was pretty standard. Five inmates were scheduled to have an initial appearance in District Court. While waiting to be called, deputies said Tommy Blevins became unruly. “He became agitated, he was able to get out of his belly chains and ran towards a window that is in the courtroom and stated […]

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    Community and school in prayer for Waterloo student struck by vehicle

    WATERLOO, Ala. – A Lauderdale County school is in prayer for a classmate who is now at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham. The nine-year-old fourth grader was struck by a car as she was leaving Waterloo School Thursday afternoon. “You probably only think the worse when you first hear something like that,” stated Gary Dan Williams, Principal of Waterloo School. “Myself, I prayed the whole way down here and I know a lot of other people were as well.” Principal Williams […]

  • McDonald's on Highway 43 in Tuscumbia put up pink bows in celebration of the baby born on Feb. 8. (Carter Watkins/WHNT News 19)

    McDonald’s manager on delivering baby: “That wasn’t in our handbook!”

    TUSCUMBIA, Ala. – As a manager of any store, you never know what might happen during your shift. On Wednesday, a manager of McDonald’s in Tuscumbia had to make a special delivery. The day started out pretty normal for shift manager Sausha Mitchell. But, things quickly turned upside down when a customer called for help in the women’s restroom. “She couldn’t understand me, I couldn’t understand her. She’s saying ‘no,’ she thought I was saying ‘go!’ So, I guess that’s how […]

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    Robber sought in Muscle Shoals sandwich shop heist

    MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. – The Muscle Shoals Police Department needs the public’s help identifying a robbery suspect. The accused was caught on camera robbing a Subway sandwich shop shortly before closing. On Wednesday night, January 25th, a robber snuck in the backdoor of the Subway on north Woodward Avenue. He was so sneaky a worker didn’t notice the man lingering around the corner from him. For about a minute the robber stood there waiting for his opportunity. He finally moved […]