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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
  • 060116 LD Oneal Bridge Update 630pm PKG

    TRAFFIC ALERT: O’Neal Bridge to close for several hours Wednesday night

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – It appears construction cones and barricades on one of the busiest bridges in northwest Alabama will be up for several more months. It’s considered to be one of the most nerve-racking stretches of road in the Shoals. Many avoid O’Neal Bridge at all costs. For more than a year, drivers have been ushered into a narrow pass while a multi-million dollar rehabilitation project continues. It allows construction crews a bit of safety as they work to […]

  • Florence Park and Recreation Lifeguards train daily in life-saving scenarios. (Carter Watkins / WHNT News 19)

    Summer pool safety is the top priority for Florence Park and Recreation

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – Pool season is upon us. The splashing and lounging brings with it certain risks. Those risks are multiplied at public pools where hundreds of people go every day to cool off. Their red swimsuits and whistles are unmistakable. These Florence Park and Recreation Department Lifeguards train daily before opening their gates. Tasked with keeping dozens of people each day safe, they train for every scenario. “Lifeguards are trained to look for things,” explained Park and Recreation […]

  • 053016 CO Veteran Monument 630 PKG

    Gulf War Memorial unveiled in Colbert County

    TUSCUMBIA, Ala. (WHNT) – Memorial Day is set aside to honor our country’s veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice to defend the United States of America. In Colbert County, a new memorial was presented Monday morning to honor two men, who had their lives cut short during Operation Desert Storm. “It’s always a sacrifice, but it is good to give of yourself for your country. When you have given your life, it is a supreme sacrifice,” stated Vietnam Veteran and […]

  • 052716 Dillard Court Appearance

    Florence attorney, second man appear in court on human trafficking charges

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – Attorney Edward “Chip” Dillard wore a yellow jail uniform when he appeared before Judge Ben Graves for his initial court appearance Friday afternoon. Asking if Dillard understood his charges which include human trafficking, he replied to Graves that he was baffled by them, but understood. A Lauderdale County grand jury handed down an indictment with 14 felony counts against him on Thursday. 83-year-old Tim Staggs also appeared before Judge Graves. He is a co-defendant in the […]

  • 052616 SACS 10pm PKG

    Lauderdale deputies are searching for a restaurant burglar

    PETERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – A popular Lauderdale County restaurant was broken into this week. Sheriff’s deputies say the man did more than $3,000 worth of damage to the building. Just before midnight Tuesday night, investigators said a vehicle and the man inside spent several minutes casing Mama Jean’s Restaurant on Cloverdale Road. Investigators believe the vehicle the man was driving is a Buick sedan. After approaching the business twice, he broke out the front door. Once inside he went for […]

  • 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 […]


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