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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 carter.watkins@whnt.com, 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
  • Man releases video depicting school bus speeding in Franklin County

    FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ala. – A motorist has created a lot of attention for a school bus driver in northwest Alabama. Over the weekend a video was posted on social media, which seems to show a bus travelling nearly double the speed limit in Franklin County. Kelly Bragwell said he was leaving his mother’s home on Franklin 41 Friday afternoon when he saw a school bus zoom by. “I knew the roads because I have lived there my whole life. It […]

  • City-wide cleanup set for Saturday in Florence

    FLORENCE, Ala. — It’s disturbing, but it happens none the less. Litter is scattered across the roadways no matter where you go. On Saturday, volunteers are hitting the streets in Florence to clean them up. Stop on the side of a highway. If you see one empty can, you might see a dozen. “Litter does happen and sometimes it blows out of the back of trucks or on purpose, both ways,” explained Rachel Mansell with Florence Recycling. “But we do need […]

  • Northwest Alabama tech students compete in trade skills competition

    MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. — For the second year in a row, dozens of high school students competed in different skill sets in the Shoals Friday. The students were representing tech schools in the SkillsUSA district competition. Not many people know how to cut a 2-inch hole into a sheet of metal. Nor can they properly diagnose what’s wrong in their car’s electrical harness. “You get to show off what you learned in tech school. It’s just a cool deal,” explained […]

  • Russellville police need accused purse snatchers identified

    RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. — The Russellville Police Department needs the public’s help identifying a couple of theft suspects. It seems the alleged thieves got a little hungry, and that’s when they were caught on surveillance. As Tuscumbia police were investigating a stolen purse case in their jurisdiction, further south a stolen credit card from the purse was being used. Russellville police obtained this footage from KFC. According to police reports, the purse was stolen on March 8th. The next morning, these […]

  • Judge orders UNA and Florence City Schools into mediation

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A Lauderdale County Circuit Judge has granted a proposed order which will put the University of North Alabama and Florence City Schools in the same room on Thursday. Attorneys familiar with civil suits say this type of order is not unusual. In the order sent down by Circuit Judge Gil Self, both parties will meet to attempt an amicable resolution. Line number two of the order states, “All parties are directed to bring to the mediation, individuals […]

  • Archivists are looking for help with Florence’s Bicentennial celebration in 2018

    FLORENCE, Ala. – An important milestone is coming next year for the City of Florence. The Shoals oldest city will be celebrating their Bicentennial. As part of the celebration they need the public’s help. One document at a time, these ladies at Burrell-Slater School are preserving pieces of history. They work for the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library’s Digital Archives. The department started an outreach Tuesday morning for Florence’s Bicentennial in 2018. “We want items from people that show their history of […]

  • Lauderdale deputies warn residents of phone scam

    FLORENCE, Ala. – There’s a scam the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents about. It’s a phone scam which is preying on someone’s fear of going to jail. Chief Deputy Richard Richey said they started getting calls from concerned residents on Monday. “If someone called you and said I’m with the sheriff’s office and I have a warrant for your arrest, first thing that goes through your mind is what have I done,” Richey explained. According to Richey, more […]

  • First steel put in place for new Florence hospital

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Progress will soon be evident in the building of a new hospital in northwest Alabama. With clouds looming overhead, a crane operator plucked the first piece of steel from its resting spot Monday morning. After months of site work, administrators with North Alabama Medical Center watched with anticipation. Their dream of a new hospital in Florence is visible. “This is a big day. It’s a major milestone for us,” stated Mike Howard, COO of North Alabama Medical […]

  • Colbert County judge explains reasoning behind political party move

    TUSCUMBIA, Ala. – A sitting judge in Colbert County has changed his political party. Probate Judge Daniel Rosser said it was his faith and family which led to the decision. Two years ago Judge Rosser faced a dilemma. He said when the same-sex marriage ban was overturned by the courts; the ruling went against his religious beliefs. “While it’s my job to always follow the law, and I always will, I felt like I had to start examining my political […]

  • Tuscumbia police investigating victim’s movement prior to shooting

    TUSCUMBIA, Ala. – Investigators in Tuscumbia are combing over evidence, looking for clues in the shooting death of Derrick Bates. Tuscumbia police said no stone has gone unturned since 1:00 A.M. Thursday morning. That’s when Derrick Bates was found shot in the head, feet from his front door. Police Chief Tony Logan said Friday they are tracking down Bates’ movements, days prior to the shooting. “Investigators are pretty busy tracking about 48-hours prior to the murder,” explained Logan. “We are […]

  • Tuscumbia court offers amnesty for outstanding cases

    TUSCUMBIA, Ala. – If you have a warrant for your arrest through the Tuscumbia City Court, you are getting a reprieve. There are hundreds of files which have sat dormant inside the court clerk’s office in Tuscumbia for years. They represent everything from traffic violations to assaults. Each one of the folders contains an arrest warrant which has yet to be served. “It’s been several years since the warrants have been on the books. They’ve moved away, they’ve relocated to […]

  • Theft suspect wanted by Russellville Police

    FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ala. – Russellville police are searching for a theft suspect caught on camera. Investigators are hoping someone can recognize the man and help bring him to justice. See the guy in the top right corner of the screen? After using his cellphone, he lays it down on the bench next to him. When his items are ready to be picked up at Walmart in Russellville, he forgets about his phone. Fast forward a couple of minutes and a […]