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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
  • 030916 LD Fishermen Search 6pm PKG

    Crews continue search for two missing brothers on Pickwick Lake

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Wednesday marked day eight in the search for two brothers who went missing on Pickwick Lake in the Shoals. An exhaustive operation, search crews continue to use sonar and air support to comb over miles of shoreline and waterway. A single fire boat sat docked at McFarland Park at noon, a pit stop to eat before heading back out on the water. They are one of many crews searching the Tennessee River for Jeremiah and Jacob Sanders. […]

  • Shannon Johnson (Photo: WHNT News 19)

    Shoals man sentenced for perjury conviction after lying in brother’s murder trial

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A Lauderdale County man has been sentenced for his perjury conviction.  Shannon Johnson lied while under oath about his involvement in the 2000 death of Keith Barnett. He was convicted last month. A judge sentenced Johnson to 15 years.  It will run consecutively with his escape conviction.  He will get credit for time served. “My opinion the maximum sentence is reserved for perps who knowingly under oath lie and that lie sends someone to prison or death row,” said […]

  • ICE Mitchell

    Northwest Alabama law enforcement see surge in ICE usage

    COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Law enforcement calls it the nastiest drug being dealt on the streets right now. “It’s not just one person’s problem, it’s all of our problem,” stated Colbert County Sheriff Frank Williamson. Authorities in Colbert, Lauderdale and Franklin counties have all seen a troubling trend over the last few months. Each agency has reported an increase in usage and arrests stemming from ICE – a type of methamphetamine. Sheriff Frank Williamson said it’s like no other […]

  • 022916 FR Tax Referendum Vote 6pm PKG

    Franklin County schools and road funding await future with referendum vote Tuesday

    FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ala. – With one day before Super Tuesday, national and local campaign signs are scattered throughout Franklin County.  There’s one local vote which is grabbing headlines though: the renewal of a one-cent sales tax. “This is vital,” said County Commission Chairman Barry Moore. “It’s very important for the school systems, both the city and the county and the county commission on this.” In 2010, voters approved a one-cent sales tax to divide between the school systems in Franklin […]

  • 022616 LD ECM Property 5pm PKG

    What’s next for the current ECM Hospital property?

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – Since the announcement of a new hospital to be built in the city of Florence, there’s been a looming question. What will happen with the aging facility ECM currently occupies and will be moving out of? It appears there’s been a decision made. For 75-years, ECM Hospital has called 17 acres of property in western Florence home. There have been numerous additions over the years; the most recent is almost 30 years old. With pre-construction efforts […]

  • Stephen Dewayne Parker

    Man sentenced in Lauderdale County for cyclist’s death

    FLORENCE, Ala (WHNT) – A Lauderdale County man convicted of hitting two cyclists with his car in September of 2014, killing one of them, has been sentenced. 49-year-old Stephen Dewayne Parker was convicted in January of causing the death of James Green and injuring Mannon Rogers on Alabama 207. Thursday afternoon, Parker was sentenced to 12 months in prison for criminally negligent homicide and 10 years in prison for assault. The sentences will run concurrently. Attorney’s for Parker filed a […]

  • This woman is accused of passing a forged check at a CB&S Bank branch in Muscle Shoals on February 11, 2016.

    Lauderdale County deputies search for forgery suspect

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – The Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department needs the public to take a good hard look at this woman.  In these surveillance pictures, investigators said she is passing a forged check. The pictures were captured at a CB&S Bank branch in Muscle Shoals on February 11th. As clear as the pictures are, someone should be able to identify her. Florence Police say they also need to get the following people off the streets: Joshua Allen Dean, 37, has […]

  • 022516 LD Business Burglaries 6pm PKG

    Lauderdale County investigators release new information on burglary spree

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – Multiple law enforcement agencies in northwest Alabama and southern Tennessee have been working tirelessly on a string of business burglaries. Today the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department released new information on who they believe may be involved. It’s a crime spree that started one month ago. Haddock’s Quick Stop on Highway 20 in the Central community was the first of six businesses to be targeted. Burglars ravaged the store, busting into safes and cash registers. “It’s got everybody […]

  • 022416 CO Trooper Shortage 630pm PKG

    Is a shortage of State Troopers leading to more crashes?

    COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Is a State Trooper shortage beginning to show up on the roads we travel every day? Statistics show they could be. With rising crash and fatality numbers, fewer and fewer troopers are on patrol. “There is less enforcement presence on the road now. It is no secret that troopers are extremely short handed and we need troopers desperately,” said Senior Trooper Jonathan Appling. ALEA is operating with just more than 400 troopers statewide. Half of […]

  • Tonya Wiginton (Photo: Franklin County Sheriff's Office)

    Franklin Co. woman charged with rape of teenage boy

    RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. – Franklin County authorities have arrested a woman on charges of rape. Tonya Lynn Wiginton, 36 faces five counts of rape. According to investigators, Wiginton is accused of having sexual contact with a 14-year-old male over a three month period. The sheriff’s department was alerted to the criminal behavior two weeks ago. Wiginton is being held in the Franklin County Detention Center.

  • 022316 CO New Airline Service 6pm PKG

    Boutique Air begins service to the Shoals

    MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. (WHNT) – There is an air carrier now serving the Shoals once again. At 7:30 Tuesday morning, Boutique Air landed on runway 29 at Northwest Alabama Regional Airport to begin providing flights to Atlanta and Nashville. The regional carrier was recently approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation to provide service to the airport. The process sped up under the Essential Air Service program. “We’re really lucky to have gotten that process moved along so quickly and […]

  • 022216 LD UNA Building Purchase 6pm PKG

    UNA looks to purchase historic downtown Florence office building

    FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – The University of North Alabama is expanding its campus into downtown Florence. Monday morning, the University Of North Alabama Board of Trustees voted to proceed with purchasing the Keystone Business Centre on south Seminary Street. When the university looked at relocating their Human Environmental Sciences program, this was their second choice. Florence City Council members voiced concerns over parking in downtown at the north Court Street location – their first selection. “This does alleviate a few of the […]


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