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
  • Oka Kapassa Festival keeps nearly 200-year-old promise

    TUSCUMBIA, Ala. – “As long as our nation remains upon the earth, we will recollect Tuscumbia.” A quote from a Creek Indian Chief on the kindness Tuscumbia showed them during the Trail of Tears. The beat of a drum marks Oka Kapassa, a Creek Indian phrase which means “Return to Coldwater”. Tuscumbia and Spring Park is a special place for American Indians. “When it is coming from the native people it is coming from their perspective. That is very important, […]

  • Men seen searching a Florence neighborhood in the dark

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A group of men were caught on camera searching a Florence neighborhood in the middle of the night and they are obviously not looking for a missing pet. Three men suddenly appear between two vehicles parked in a driveway in the Morningdale subdivision, they are checking door handles. According to residents, they were caught on several cameras in the neighborhood on the morning of September 8. Florence police would love to identify who these guys are. Luckily […]

  • UNA family gathers to honor 9/11 victim

    FLORENCE, Ala. – The University of North Alabama gathered Wednesday morning to honor one of their own who died during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. A single wreath stood in front of the UNA Memorial Amphitheater. An honor to the late Major Dwayne Williams, a UNA graduate, and former football player. Major Williams was among those who died during the attack on the Pentagon 18-years ago. “We should remember everyone who fought and lost their lives and lost […]

  • School Resource Officers begin patrolling Sheffield schools

    SHEFFIELD, Ala. – The Sheffield Police Department is the first agency in the state to take advantage of a new law which brings retirees off the bench and into the schools. There is a calm among the teachers and students of Sheffield City Schools. Patrolling the hallways on each of the three campuses is a School Resource Officer. Two of the three are retirees from the Colbert County Sheriff’s Office, and the third is a full-time Sheffield police officer. Earlier this […]

  • Sheffield back to normal after Sunday morning chlorine gas leak

    SHEFFIELD, Ala. – Hundreds of Sheffield citizens woke up early Sunday morning to a potentially toxic situation. Chlorine gas was released into the air from the city’s wastewater plant. According to Sheffield Utilities, just after 1 a.m., an automated alert system notified them of a potential leak at the wastewater plant. A closer look by workers triggered a call to Colbert County 911. From Sky19, we got an aerial view of the plant itself. The tanks behind Sunday mornings leak […]

  • Friend remembers music legend Jimmy Johnson as a driving force

    SHEFFIELD, Ala. – Friends are celebrating a music legend’s life. Famed guitarist, engineer, and music producer Jimmy Johnson passed away on Thursday surrounded by family. A white ribbon hangs from the door outside Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Sheffield. For ten years, some of the biggest names in music recorded in the building. Johnson was the driving force behind its success. “Jimmy was the strength behind everything,” stated studio co-founder David Hood. “Everything in here I see Jimmy’s touches, and […]

  • Florence theft suspects snatched someone else’s stuff

    ] FLORENCE, Ala. – Police need the public’s help in identifying two theft suspects. They caught them on-camera, and believe someone knows who they are. On August 27, Florence police say the man and woman you see in the photos are the theft suspects. They were tracked at Walmart on Hough Road. Another shopper got busy loading her items into her car and left her purse in the cart. Detectives say before she could get back to retrieve it, these […]

  • Council changes the way Florence’s entertainment district operates

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Change is coming to downtown Florence. In 2018, the city council adopted an ordinance designating a portion of the downtown area as an entertainment district. This week they changed the rules. The downtown area continues to prosper. The city of Florence has taken great pride in preserving the history while also progressing into the future. “We have done all the right things to make our downtown the true anchor that it should be for economic development,” stated […]

  • Jimmy Johnson, founding member of the Swampers has died

    SHEFFIELD, Ala. – A founding member of the famed “Swampers” passed away Thursday afternoon. The family of Jimmy Johnson announced his passing just after 2 p.m. Johnson is known for his success as a record producer and guitarist at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. The 76-year-old Johnson worked with the likes of the Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rod Stewart – the list goes on. Johnson had been battling an extended illness over the last few years. Our condolences go out to […]

  • Lauderdale County sheriff wants higher pay for deputies

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – Imagine putting your life on the line every day you report to work. While others depend on you for their safety, your family at home is barely getting by. One northwest Alabama sheriff is wanting to help his deputies. “It is a very stressful, very risky job, especially in this day and time,” stated Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton. “These guys deserve every penny we pay them and then some.” When Sheriff Singleton took office five […]

  • Muscle Shoals burglar caught on camera

    MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. – A burglar hit a Muscle Shoals business this past weekend, stealing equipment and damaging property. Their crime was caught on surveillance cameras. Nothing good is usually happening at 4 a.m. on a Saturday morning. That is the exact time this burglar was walking through Coldwater Landscapes in Muscle Shoals. Owners of the Ford Street business noticed some things were missing and damaged when they showed up for work. After checking the cameras, they found the suspect. […]

  • First adaptive ball field set to open in northwest Alabama

    MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. – Eight years of planning has led to a big unveiling planned for next week in the Shoals. Kids of all ages and abilities will be able to participate in their favorite summer-time sports. The finishing touches are happening on the first adaptive playing field in northwest Alabama. It will give children with disabilities the opportunity to participate like never before. “It’s going to be exciting to see those kids out here playing,” explained Muscle Shoals Parks […]

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