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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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    State and local authorities continue investigation into Rogersville murder

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – Authorities in Rogersville call it one of the most violent crimes they have ever seen in the small town, and they are still seeking justice. On October 23rd of 2015, 58-year-old Connie Ridgeway was found stabbed to death inside her residence at Meadowlands Apartments. Neighbors and community members have left memorials on the door-step of apartment four. Ridgeway was known for caring attitude and always helping neighbors, which has made this case so difficult for investigators. […]

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    School superintendents not happy about lack of information on the state grading system

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Students will not be the only one’s getting report cards at the end of this semester. According to the state superintendent, so too will the school system’s. This move has school superintendents across Alabama asking more questions than they can get answers. In 2012, legislators approved a bill which would give each public school in the state a grade on their performance. Since then, a task force has worked to create the report cards. The trouble superintendents […]

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    UNA takes on PETA during a national broadcast about school mascots

    FLORENCE, Ala. – The grunts on the University of North Alabama Campus are unmistakable. They come from the heart of campus, in a habitat for the school’s two African Lion mascots. For almost 14-years, the brother and sister have roamed their habitat. University Communications Director Bryan Rachal said Leo III and UNA have been cared for around the clock since their birth. “They have a state of the art habitat where they can jump around and play and get in […]

  • Shanna Ozbirn

    Franklin County school teacher arrested while working second job

    RED BAY, Ala. – A Franklin County teacher has been arrested while working at a second job.  Monday night, 38-year-old Shanna Ozbirn was taken into custody by Red Bay Police after a city council meeting. Police Chief Janna Jackson said Ozbirn appeared to be under the influence, and in no shape to operate a vehicle. Ozbirn was at the meeting as a freelance writer for a Red Bay newspaper.  She was charged with public intoxication and possession of prohibited liquor. County […]

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    Lauderdale County supporters of Amendment 2 gather to discuss its importance

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – This afternoon in Rogersville, the Alabama State Parks Director was surrounded by local supporters of Amendment 2. They gathered at the crown jewel of eastern Lauderdale County. Rogersville is known for its fishing, boating, and golf; three activities which take place at Joe Wheeler State Park. Mayor Richard Herston will be the first to tell you, if Joe Wheeler shut down, it would be catastrophic for his town. It’s the reason why he supports Amendment 2. […]

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    Grand jury indicts Lauderdale County man for arson

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A Lauderdale County man has been indicted for setting fire to his employer’s home. It took nearly ten months from the time of his arrest, but indictments have been handed down against the man who is accused of intentionally setting fire to his boss’s home in Florence. The fire was reported on November 15th on Meridian Street. When firefighters arrived at the home, the fire had already burned itself out. But when the 72-year-old homeowner went back […]

  • 101716-co-superintendent-cleared-web-pic

    Colbert County Superintendent cleared in ethics complaint

    COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. – A Shoals area superintendent has been cleared of any wrong-doing by the state ethics commission. On Friday, Colbert County Interim Superintendent Gale Satchel received official notice the complaints had been dismissed. She admits the last year of her life has not been the easiest. But when Satchel opened her mail on Friday – she said she rejoiced. “Basically, it summarizes that you have been cleared of all charges and I can move on with my life,” […]

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    Lauderdale County investigators continue search for Childers, one month after disappearance

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – For one month, family and friends have been worried sick over the disappearance of their loved one. Robert Shawn Childers reportedly walked away from his Cloverdale home on September 17th and has not been seen. Since vanishing, authorities and volunteers have searched the area around his home multiple times with no luck. There’s also been at least three sightings of men in the woods near Childers home in which deputies have checked out. One of the […]

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    Sheffield students instructed on hazards around train tracks

    SHEFFIELD, Ala. – Four decades after Operation Lifesaver began in Alabama, the numbers are still alarming. The state ranks near the top of the list in vehicle-train collisions. While there has been a decrease, Operation Lifesaver says there is still a lot to do. It could only take a split second for any one of these kids to lose their life. They are Driver’s Ed students at Sheffield High School. Fifteen-year-old Angel Napalit knows how precious life can be. “I’ve […]

  • Car theft suspect

    Florence Police ask for public’s help to identify suspected car thief

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Police are searching for a car thief. They caught the suspect on camera, and now they’re asking for help identifying him. It might be difficult to get this close to a camera and not be identified. Florence Police said the man in the red t-shirt is suspected in a vehicle theft case. Investigators said he stole the vehicle in the area of Patton Street, and took off. A resident familiar with the stolen vehicle followed the man […]

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    Florence leaders to evaluate sign ordinance to keep up with technology

    FLORENCE, Ala. – The city of Florence is taking a long look at their current sign ordinance. They say technology is forcing them to address a brightness issue, along with distractions. They push dinner deals, car washes, even religion. LED signs are popping up along roadways across the country, and presenting an issue for municipalities which has to be addressed. As the sun sets, the problem becomes even more visible. Brightness levels on LED signage cannot only be bothersome to […]

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    Wildfires becoming more frequent across Lauderdale County

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – Fire fighters across the valley are covered up right now, battling wildfires. Hardwood continues to smolder atop scorched ground in the Gravelly Springs community. Tuesday afternoon, volunteer fire fighters from nine departments responded to the call for help. When it was all said and done, more than 100-acres burned. “We just keep praying for rain, but it looks like it’s going to be another week or maybe up to two weeks before we get any more […]