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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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    Police in Muscle Shoals take to social media to discourage holiday theft

    MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. — The Muscle Shoals Police Department is turning to social media to help discourage crime over the holidays. As people hit the shopping centers and department stores this holiday season, so does the criminal element. Muscle Shoals Police have a strong message to crooks: “If you’re going to steal, we prefer you not to, but if you are, don’t come to Muscle Shoals because we have zero tolerance,” stated Muscle Shoals Police Chief Clint Reck. Reck said he […]

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    Shoals veterans helped with applying for VA benefits

    SHEFFIELD, Ala. –  There is an organization that is trying to make sure that the men and women who have served our country get the benefits they deserve. Their weathered faces help tell their story. The majority of the veterans that gathered in Sheffield Tuesday morning spent time in Vietnam. “I’m a Vietnam War Veteran, and a wounded war Veteran, disabled Veteran, and we have a lot in here also that’s not getting their fair share,” explained Commander Jessie Qualls […]

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    Fourth sexual assault victim files suit against traveling petting zoo in Lauderdale County

    FLORENCE, Ala. – The parent of a fourth alleged victim has filed a lawsuit against the owners and operators of a traveling petting zoo in Lauderdale County. Just over a week ago, three families filed suit against Jungle Safari, for employing a man who stands accused of inappropriately touching half a dozen small girls. Court records indicate the latest suit was filed in Lauderdale County Circuit Court on December 9th. The nine page document represents yet another victim who police […]

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    Parent of Brooks student raises concerns about bus driver

    KILLEN, Ala. – A parent of a Lauderdale County Schools student contacted us on Monday via social media, concerned about the safety of her child. The parent said the school bus driver who transports her daughter to and from school was texting and using her cell phone while driving. Heather, the parent who contacted WHNT News 19 said, “My daughter who is in 6th grade, gets off the bus just about every day and tells me her bus driver is constantly […]

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    Florence High School students record and produce Christmas CD

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Several students at Florence High School are living their dream right now. Recording Arts students have released their very first full length CD just in time for Christmas. It’s unconventional, but it’s working at Florence High School. The sound of electric guitar and drums spread through the hallways of the high school. Zane Bowling and his band mates of Electric Zen are actually in class while they practice their craft. “It’s really cool to come into school […]

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    Florence police continue search for car theft suspect

    FLORENCE, Ala. – The Florence Police Department is searching for a theft suspect in this week’s Shoals Area Crime Stoppers. See this guy strolling into a Florence Boulevard business. Investigators said after doing some shopping, he went next door and stole a vehicle. According to Florence police the incident happened on November 16th. Authorities said the car was recovered a short time later. Detectives have tried to identify him, but haven’t been unsuccessful to this point. The Colbert County Sheriff’s […]

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    Tuscumbia officers cleared by department in fatal shooting

    TUSCUMBIA, Ala. – Three Tuscumbia police officers have been cleared to return to work following a fatal shooting late last week. The officers were placed on paid administrative leave. Gunshots rang out early Friday morning during a traffic stop in front of Fred’s Discount Store on Woodmont Drive. Police Chief Tony Logan said officers were forced to shoot and kill Derek Lynn Scott after he shot at a deputy. “I cannot tell you how pleased I am with the professionalism […]

  • UNA Division I announcement

    UNA to join Atlantic Sun Conference in 2018, will move to Division I status

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Big changes are coming for the athletic programs at the University of North Alabama.  In July of 2018, the school will change to Division I status for athletics and join the Atlantic Sun Conference (ASUN). UNA President Kenneth Kitts said that the invitation from the ASUN represents an ideal opportunity for the university to transition to Division I and to achieve goals that will further enhance UNA athletics. The school has been working on this transition since […]

  • Daryl Raymond, Jr.

    Lawsuit filed in Lauderdale County against petting zoo & employee accused of sexual assault

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A civil lawsuit has been filed against the owners of a petting zoo, who employed a man accused of inappropriately touching several small children. The lawsuit has been filed in Lauderdale County Circuit Court. The 10-page complaint was filed on behalf of three sets of parents, whose children were allegedly touched by Daryl Raymond while he was working for Jungle Safari. The complaint names Engesser’s Exotics, the parent company of Jungle Safari, the Florence Plaza, and Daryl […]

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    Russellville Police search for multiple theft suspects

    RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. – Authorities in Franklin County are looking for two theft suspects. Normally we profile someone who likely stole a credit or debit card and went on a shopping spree. But this one is different. Russellville Police said this man went to Walmart on October 26th and shopped a different way. After filling up his cart with a number of items, he walked right out of the store, not once but twice. He may have slipped past security, but […]

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    Franklin County tornado victim is thankful to be alive; funds needed for repairs

    FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ala. – A family homestead in Franklin County is in shambles after a tornado swept through Tuesday night. Generations have been raised in the home, and now they are trying to get it repaired. “I woke up the next morning at 4 o’clock and my teeth were chattering and I just shook all over because it hit me as to what I had gone through,” stated storm victim Adeline Scott. Two days later, Scott still can’t believe what’s […]

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    UNA students still shocked after losing their apartment building Tuesday night

    FLORENCE, Ala. – More than a dozen University of North Alabama students likely lost everything after fire swept through a Florence apartment complex Tuesday night. “We are lucky we made it out alive and that it is not any worse than it already is,” stated Karly Kruse, a tenant in building F. Hours later, the sights of Tuesday night’s flames are still horrifying for some. Flames towered above the roof-line more than thirty feet. Florence firefighters were called to ivy […]