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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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    Sheffield elementary students make greeting cards from the heart

    SHEFFIELD, Ala. – February could be considered the month of love. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, there’s a group of kids at L.E. Wilson Elementary School who are doing their best to spread some. With crayons and colored pencils in hand, students spoke from their heart. “Thank you for serving our country and putting your life on the line to save us. God Bless You,” said James Spencer, reading aloud from his card. Words of encouragement and words […]

  • Kelly Turpin with her children

    Shoals mother says daughter’s injuries a result of bullying, claims school isn’t doing enough about it

    COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. – A Sheffield elementary school mother is upset about injuries her daughter received recently. She claims her fourth grader is the victim of bullying. The pictures you’ll see in this story are graphic. WHNT News 19 met with the girl’s mother on Monday. Kelly Turpin said this is an ongoing problem. Turpin’s daughter has a concussion, two black eyes and bruised face. “When I came in she was very upset and covered in blood,” said Turpin. “The first […]

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    Traffic slow on Hwy. 72 in Lauderdale County due to overturned truck

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – A large truck hauling lumber overturned on Highway 72 Monday morning at County Road 424. No one was hurt, authorities tell us. Crews are working to clear the scene now. Traffic has been redirected to the opposite lane to keep things moving.

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    Florence police release video in hopes of identifying theft suspects

    FLORENCE, Ala. – The Florence Police Department needs help identifying some theft suspects. A group of people took a stolen credit card on shopping spree and were caught on camera. On January 29th, the three people seen leaving the Hough Road Walmart in Florence had just used a stolen credit card. Investigators say it was stolen from a vehicle in Sheffield not long before they used it. The trio was able to charge $200 on the card before it got […]

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    Lauderdale County man arrested for shooting; mother recovering

    CENTER STAR, Ala. – We’ve learned some disturbing details about a shooting which injured a woman late Wednesday night in Lauderdale County. On a darkened portion of County Road 412 in Center Star, deputies responded to a domestic violence call with shots fired. When they arrived, they found the female homeowner shot by her 39-year-old son. Chief Deputy Richard Richey responded to the scene, “She was concerned about his drinking. One thing led to another and he left the room. […]

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    Family of Keith Barnett relieved after Johnson is sentenced to life

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A Lauderdale County family says they can rest easy tonight knowing the men who killed their son will be behind bars for life. The second person convicted of murdering Keith Barnett in 2000 was sentenced Wednesday. For more than 16 years a father has hurt. “I had blocked out everything in my life, avoided it, because that is what I thrived on is to find out exactly who killed my son,” stated Kenneth Barnett, the father of […]

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    Tuscumbia police add body cameras following deadly officer involved shooting

    TUSCUMBIA, Ala. – A Colbert County police agency has added body cameras to their officer’s service belts. The move comes just two months after Tuscumbia police officers were involved in a shooting. In early December three officers and a sheriff’s deputy were conducting a traffic stop when shots were fired. The man who shot the first round was killed – but Tuscumbia officers had no video evidence of the shooting. “It’s a tool that in this day and time modern […]

  • Shannon Johnson

    Murder victim’s family reacts to Shannon Johnson sentencing in Lauderdale County

    FLORENCE, Ala. – On Wednesday, a Lauderdale County judge sentenced Shannon Johnson to life in prison for murder. The victim, Keith Barnett, was beaten to death.  Johnson and his brother then dumped Barnett’s body along Highway 17. This was in the year 2000. Finally on Wednesday, justice was served for the Barnett family, and they were there to witness it. WHNT News 19 spoke with Kenneth Barnett, the victim’s father.  He said he has been hurting for a long time. […]

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    Troopers investigate deadly wreck in Colbert County

    TUSCUMBIA, Ala. – Alabama State Troopers are investigating a deadly wreck in Colbert County. It happened Wednesday about 5:30 a.m. on Baker Lane, south of Highway 72. Troopers say Stanley Alan Coan, 54, died when the 2008 Chevrolet HHR he was driving left the roadway and overturned. Troopers say Coan died at the scene.  He was from Tuscumbia.

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    Shoals residents rally around former UNA football player with blood cancer

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A true story of need right now in the Shoals; a need so strong it could save a man’s life. In October Justin Sappington, a husband and father of two, was diagnosed with Myeloid Dysplasia Syndrome. MDS is a blood cancer that keeps bone marrow cells from maturing into healthy blood cells. “Nobody knows the time because that is always the question,” explained Sappington. “You know, how much time do I have to make these decisions, and […]

  • Helen Keller Hospital

    Employees being cut from two hospitals in Shoals

    SHEFFIELD, Ala. – Two hospitals in the Shoals are cutting employees due to operational costs. Helen Keller Hospital and Red Bay Hospital say they have had to either reduce scheduled hours or eliminate positions at the two facilities, affecting a total of 22 staff members. “Although we hear and read about the issues of healthcare in Washington and Montgomery, unfortunately, the greatest impact of these issues is always local,” the hospitals said in a statement. “The economic challenge of rising costs […]

  • Nathan Bougher being escorted from the Colbert County Courthouse. (WHNT)

    Tuscumbia sexual torture suspect appears in court; hearing rescheduled

    COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. — A Tuscumbia man charged with sexually torturing an infant appeared in court Monday morning. But the hearing set for Nathan Bougher in District Court never happened. Cuffed and shackled, Bougher said nothing as he entered the Colbert County Courthouse. The preliminary hearing he was scheduled to have, rescheduled at the last moment. The 21-year-old was arrested earlier this month after doctors determined a 2-month-old was suffering from multiple injuries. Those injuries investigators said included spiral fractures […]