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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
  • Police say Jason Fox was killed inside his home on Grand Avenue in Muscle Shoals on August 12, 2016. (Photo: Carter Watkins/WHNT News 19)

    Muscle Shoals police update on third arrest in Jason Fox murder

    MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. – Police in Muscle Shoals say they have arrested a third person in the murder of Jason Fox. Police arrested Jeremy Michael Credille has been arrested and charged with capital murder in the case. Two people have already been charged — Fox’s wife, Erica Rae Fox, and Ronnie Lee Credille.   Investigators say the two were having an affair. Jason Fox was killed on August 12, 2016.  The 40-year-old was found dead inside his home on Grand […]

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    Campus police seek man who tried stealing from UNA mascots

    FLORENCE, Ala. – The University of North Alabama Police Department is looking for a man who tried to steal money from the school`s mascots. Just before 10-pm on December 31st most people were getting ready to ring in the new year. UNA Police say this man seen on surveillance had something else in mind. As he strolled campus, investigators said he walked up to the lion habitat and tried to steal money from the donation box. The money is used […]

  • Shannon Johnson (Photo: WHNT News 19)

    Jury still deliberating in Shannon Johnson’s murder trial

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A Lauderdale County jury continues to deliberate the fate of Shannon Johnson. After a day and a half, they still haven’t decided. Thursday afternoon, the jury went home about 4 p.m. They will return Friday morning. They have been deliberating since mid-day Wednesday, when Johnson’s murder trial wrapped.  One final witness took the stand and defense attorney Chris Childers made a brief statement to jurors then rested the case. Johnson stands accused of beating Keith Barnett, and […]

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    Florence Police see drastic drop in crime over the past two decades

    FLORENCE, Ala. – The numbers are in and there’s a surprising trend for the amount of crime happening in the city of Florence. Numbers say a lot, Florence Police Chief Ron Tyler is constantly studying crime statistics looking for trends around the city. They track the numbers to turn into the FBI for national statistics. As Tyler was watching the 2016 numbers for eight major crime categories add up, he noticed a decline in actual offenses over 2015. But that’s […]

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    Mother arrested in Franklin County child rape case

    RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. – A Franklin County woman is behind bars, facing the same charges as the man who is accused of sexually assaulting her daughter. Authorities call this a very disturbing case. Just outside the Russellville city limits, Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver said an 8-year-old girl was raped and sodomized. The assailant, a man who was staying with the victim and her mother. “It’s sickening to think someone could do that to a child,” Oliver said. Sheriff Oliver said […]

  • April Johnson

    Florence Police arrest woman for DUI, find her 2 young children home alone half a day later

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Police say a series of bad decisions over the weekend left two small children home alone, while their mother sat behind bars. In the early morning hours of Saturday, 31-year-old April Johnson was arrested for driving under the influence. She was then booked into the Lauderdale County Detention Center. “Twelve hours later, a jailer is having a conversation and learns there may be two children that are unattended inside a home, and these children are 3 years […]

  • Investigators escort Joey Vaughn to an awaiting vehicle, on his way to jail. (WHNT News 19)

    WHNT Exclusive: Lauderdale County deputies arrest “Hamburglar” using forensics

    FLORENCE, Ala. – The Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office has arrested the person they have only known as the “Hamburglar.” Joey Jay Vaughn, 55, was arrested early Monday and charged with burglary, theft of property and criminal mischief. Vaughn is accused of breaking into Mama Jean’s restaurant on Cloverdale Road in May of 2016, stealing a box of ham and some change. Sheriff’s investigators said DNA left at the scene was tested by state forensics and came back as Vaughn’s. Once […]

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    Roads in northern Lauderdale County left slippery after morning snow

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – Northwest Alabama was the first area to start seeing wintry precipitation early Friday morning. But it wasn’t until mid-morning that roads quickly deteriorated with snow showers. It was just before 9 A.M. when flurries began falling in downtown Florence. At the same time, snow fall was a bit heavier to the north. In a swatch which covered northern Lauderdale County within ten miles of the Tennessee state line, secondary roads got bad, pretty quickly. “Just be […]

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    Police search for Christmas time car burglar in Florence

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Authorities are trying to identify a car burglar caught on camera. The crime happened just before Christmas, and Florence police said several presents were stolen. On Saturday night, December 10th a thief hit two cars parked in the Moose Lodge parking lot on Chisholm Road. Florence police believe the vehicle caught on camera is an early 2000 Honda CRV, possibly red. Once the SUV parks, the male driver pillages through a truck, taking a Yeti cooler from […]

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    Top 5 move on to finals in Shoals Alabama Launchpad competition

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Eight teams began Thursday morning in the Shoals competing for $100,000. The teams are made up of entrepreneurs who are trying to develop a new business. Six minutes, that’s all the time teams had to impress judges. Contestants pitched products they have developed and want to get to market. It’s a big deal for Shoals entrepreneurs to get this far. “The teams that are here, we really had to survive,” explained Alchemy founder Ashley Morrow. “Normally with […]

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    Shoals road departments ready for the possibility of Friday snow

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Transportation officials are keeping a close eye on the potential for winter weather over the next 24-hours. In northwest Alabama, they already started making preparations. Thursday morning the Florence Street Department loaded two spreader trucks with sand. Unsure what the weather will bring Friday morning, Street Department Director David Koonce made the decision to load up and be ready just in case. “We have a standard plan we use and revert to because these guys are veterans; […]

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    Concealed carry permits now available online in the Shoals

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – Applying for a pistol permit in the Shoals has gotten a little bit easier. Residents in Colbert and Lauderdale counties can now apply online through their sheriff’s office website. With a few clicks on the mouse, followed by some keystrokes – you can request a pistol permit rather quickly. “This way you can sit at home and fill out the application online and submit it to us, and then we do the background checks,” Lauderdale County […]