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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
  • 052516 LD Water Safety 5pm PKG

    Waterway patrols increase as holiday weekend approaches

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – With the extended Memorial Day weekend just a few days away, law enforcement are ramping up patrols. Each year, the Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of summer boating season. For many, it’s their first time of the year on the water. “Just because it is a recreational event, it doesn’t mean you can put safety aside,” explained ALEA Spokesman Sr. Trooper Johnathan Appling. “Safety still has to be your priority.” Appling has worked numerous boat […]

  • 052416 LD SRO Proposal 6pm PKG

    Sheriff and superintendent request more SRO’s for Lauderdale County schools

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – The Lauderdale County School System and sheriff’s department is working to make school campuses safer. Spotting a sheriff’s vehicle outside a Lauderdale County school can be hit or miss on most days. They do their best to be everywhere, but three deputies covering 10 campuses leave them on the road, a lot. “Anybody that has been to Lauderdale County and traveled the distance between our schools knows how hard it is for even three School […]

  • Farmers Home Furniture has bought this building in the Russellville Industrial Park for its new distribution center. (Photo: Carter Watkins/WHNT News 19)

    Farmers Home Furniture to build new distribution center in Russellville, creating 80 new jobs

    RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. – Farmers Home Furniture announced today it will invest $10 million in a new distribution center to be built in Franklin County.  This is expected to bring 80 new jobs to northwest Alabama. Farmers purchased a 325,000 square foot facility in Russellville Industrial Park.  Farmers Home Furniture has 35 stores in various locations throughout Alabama, and this new center will serve as a distribution hub. Farmers was founded in 1949 by Sherwin Glass and is now one of […]

  • (Photo: Carter Watkins/WHNT News 19)

    Truck crashes into home on Morgan St. in Florence

    FLORENCE, Ala – Florence Police and firefighters were called to a home on Morgan Street. It appears a truck drove into the home just after 10:30 a.m. First responders say the driver was taken to ECM Hospital in critical condition. They indicated the driver may have had a medical problem.

  • 052016 LD Lexington Veterans Scholarship 630pm PKG

    Lexington Senior given Fallen Veterans Memorial Scholarship

    LEXINGTON, Ala. (WHNT) – As thousands of high school seniors prepare to walk across the stage in a couple of weeks at graduation, many will be getting scholarship awards. With parents and classmates looking on, some anxious seniors at Lexington High School took their turns receiving their scholarships Friday morning. Among the list of nearly 40 presentations, one stood out as the most special. “You still see the flags flying on the lawns of homes and stuff like that. It […]

  • 051916 SACS Still

    Russellville Police say a woman stole a purse, just after getting a birthday cake

    RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Police are hoping to identify a woman who went shopping in someone else’s cart. The woman with sticky fingers was caught on multiple surveillance cameras. See the woman in the orange t-shirt? She’s using the self-checkout register at Walmart in Russellville. She’s paying for a birthday cake. No crime so far. But from the time she left the checkout line until she walked out the front doors, she picked up a woman’s purse. She tried to […]

  • Brian Peden (Photo: Carter Watkins/WHNT News 19)

    Jury: Shoals man guilty of misdemeanor charge in 2015 deadly wreck

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – Following two days of emotional testimony in the manslaughter case against a Lauderdale County man, the jury handed down a guilty verdict in the case. Just over a year after his arrest for manslaughter, Brian Peden left the Lauderdale County Courthouse Thursday in handcuffs. An all-male jury voted to convict Peden of criminally negligent homicide without DUI, a misdemeanor. While testifying under oath on Wednesday, Peden took responsibility for the death of 47-year-old Shirley Brannon. “He […]

  • 051816 LD Jail Overcrowding 630pm PKG

    Lauderdale County Sheriff seeks solution to crowded jail situation

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – Lauderdale County is looking for a solution to crowding issues at its detention center. Constructed more than 20 years ago, the Lauderdale County Detention Center has seen several modifications over the years. The capacity has climbed from 150 when it opened to 203. The trouble the county faces – last year the detention center averaged 228 inmates a day. “We just don’t have the space to accommodate the demand right now,” stated Sheriff Rick Singleton. “And it’s just going […]

  • 051716 CO Arson Investigation

    Tuscumbia apartment fire declared arson; information sought

    TUSCUMBIA, Ala. (WHNT) – State fire officials have declared an apartment fire from over the weekend in Tuscumbia arson. A broken window and singed siding are all that point to an apartment fire at Bainesmere Apartments on Sixth Street. State fire officials say the fire appears to have started in the top right apartment late Friday night. “We do try to gather all of the evidence we can get to be able to… find out what happened,” explained Cpt. Stuart […]

  • Photo: Florence Police Department

    Recognize this man? He’s suspected of stealing shoes from Belk in Florence

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Florence Police are trying to identify a suspect in a theft. Police have released a surveillance picture of the man at Belk department store in the Florence Mall. Investigators say he used some smooth talking to confuse a clerk into bagging up a pair of shoes in which he didn’t pay for. Police say he has used the same tactics in Decatur and Springhill, Tennessee. If you know this man, call the Shoals Area CrimeStoppers tip line […]

  • Lt. Ray Terry receives the Law Enforcement of the Year Award during a ceremony on Monday. (Carter Watkins / WHNT News 19)

    Shoals Rotary Clubs name Officer of the Year

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – This week we pause to say ‘thank you’ to law enforcement across the U.S. At a time when negativity surrounds law enforcement across the nation, there are groups who still praise them. The Greater Shoals Rotary Club and Florence Rotary Club make it a point every year to give back to those who wear the badge. “The majority of people support law enforcement, but they don’t have the ear,” said Sheffield Police Chief Greg Ray. “It […]

  • 051316 LD Child Summer Safety 5pm PKG

    Florence Police urge parents to help teach kids about “Stranger Danger”

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – With summer break for schools just around the corner, Florence Police want to take the opportunity to remind parents to have an important safety talk with their kids. In a couple of weeks, the school hallways will empty for the summer.  Students will be giving up school books for bikes and hanging out with friends. But they need to be aware of their surroundings. “They can be any person, they can be anywhere,” said Investigator Drew […]


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