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
  • Panel discussion held in Colbert County to help end opioid crisis

    COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. – It is an epidemic which has a firm grip on much of north Alabama. The opioid crisis is going to take a lot of people coming together to find the answers. A meeting at Northwest-Shoals Community College on Wednesday had community leaders putting their heads together. “I think the biggest thing everyone is realizing is everybody has good ideas, but we need to have maybe one entity that kind of organizes everything,” explained Colbert County Dr. […]

  • Veterans Park and other Florence recreation centers to see improvements

    FLORENCE, Ala. – The city of Florence is putting your tax dollars to work. Earlier this month, a one-cent sales tax increase went into effect and improvement projects put on the back-burner for years are now underway. Veterans Park will be the first to get some much-needed attention. For more than ten years, the park has sat all but vacant. It was supposed to be part of a larger project which brought a championship golf course and luxury hotel to […]

  • City-wide cleanup planned for Saturday in Florence

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Following the recent flooding in northwest Alabama, a major clean-up is set for Saturday morning. Hundreds of people will be walking the streets of Florence picking up litter moved around by flood waters. As cars whiz by on Alabama Highway 20 in Florence there is an ugly reality lurking in the bushes to their right or left. “I have never seen it look like that,” stated Ruby Castillo with Florence Recycling. “I don’t know if I am […]

  • Tuscumbia theft suspects caught on camera

    TUSCUMBIA, Ala. – Two theft suspects were caught by surveillance cameras in the act. Tuscumbia police are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying an unknown female. Employees at Boutique 72 in Tuscumbia felt like something shady was going on as two people strolled through the store. A quick look at surveillance video afterward confirmed their suspicions. There on camera, the female subject is seen stashing away a piece of clothing. Tuscumbia police say they have already identified her partner […]

  • New women’s detention center to help Lauderdale County overcrowding

    LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – WHNT News 19 has been contacted numerous times about overcrowding at the Lauderdale County Detention Center. The sheriff’s office is just weeks away from opening a female only detention center, but is it going to be enough? Population numbers have steadily increased at the Lauderdale County Detention Center since 2016. Before the state Prison Reform Act, their average was closer to the declared capacity of 203. On Thursday morning, 331 inmates were locked up. “We all […]

  • McFarland Park remains closed as flooding continues and cleanup begins

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Damage estimates are moving into the tens of thousands of dollars for one of Florence’s main attractions. Despite days of work, it’s still going to be sometime before McFarland Park is ready to re-open after recent flooding. With the Tennessee River still above flood stage, water continues to flow into the park. It has been one week since crews were able to make it into the western side of McFarland Park. Although many of the areas are […]

  • Federal assessments underway in flood damaged Colbert County

    COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. – Boots are on the ground in Northwest Alabama. On Tuesday, federal agencies began the process of determining just how much damage has been done by recent floods, and what they see may have a direct impact on whether or not aid will be made available. Flood waters have receded back into the retention pond in Nathan Estates in Muscle Shoals.  Homeowners and volunteers have all but finished the initial clean-up, and now it’s time for damage […]

  • Florence school system wants to take Pre-K program city-wide

    FLORENCE, Ala. – Six years ago, the uncertainty of federal funding forced Florence City Schools to close down their Pre-K program. In 2017, they slowly started reintroducing four-year-olds back into the schoolhouse with state grants. The school system says they are now ready to take the program city-wide. “We really have a vision to make Pre-K the new kindergarten in Florence City,” stated Superintendent Jimmy Shaw. Since taking office, Shaw has started Pre-K on three elementary school campuses. Until now, […]

  • Taking Action to keep flood victims from being scammed

    MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. – WHNT News 19 has a Taking Action alert for victims of recent flooding in north Alabama. We have compiled steps you need to take before hiring contractors to repair damage. In the Muscle Shoals neighborhood of Nathan Estates, residents and volunteers have been working tirelessly all week. They’ve been busy emptying homes, tearing out flooring and removing drywall. In a few days, it will be time to begin rebuilding. It’s hard to imagine, but there are […]

  • Neighbors helping neighbors during Shoals flood recovery

    MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. – While our neighbors to the south are dealing with an extreme disaster, residents in northwest Alabama are beginning their recovery. Days of torrential rains in February contributed to areal flooding in Colbert County. Nathan Estates in Muscle Shoals is one of the neighborhoods hit the worst. The city of Muscle Shoals is about to begin their first sweep through the area. They will be picking up a lifetime of memories, destroyed by the recent flood. “When […]

  • Florence police work to identify scam artist

    FLORENCE, Ala. – A scam artist is preying on financial institutions and businesses in Florence. In the last week, the man has taken several hundred dollars from clerks with sleight of hand. Florence police investigators call the guy a swindler. On February 19, he walked into a north Florence bank with a handful of cash. He handed the clerk a stack of $50 bills and asked they be exchanged into $100 bills. As the clerk was counting them out, investigators […]

  • Several Colbert County roads remain impassable due to flooding

    COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. – Portions of northwest Alabama remain under a flood warning Thursday evening. While the Tennessee River continues to slowly drop, road crews are dealing with quite a few areal flood issues. Barricades continue to block several roads in Colbert County. Crews say could be days, weeks, and even in a couple of cases months before vehicles will be traveling on them again. “We just don’t have anywhere to pump the water,” explained Colbert County Engineer John Bedford. […]

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