On Tuesday, February 7, Professor W. Joseph Campbell’s “Foreign Policy and the Press” class had the unique opportunity to speak with intrepid Fox News foreign correspondent and American University School of Communication alum Trey Yingst (SOC/BA ’16). I had the privilege to be part of the discussion.
Yingst, who is based in Jerusalem, spoke to us via Zoom from Kyiv, where he’s covering the Russian invasion in Ukraine as the one-year anniversary of Russia’s “Special Military Operation” approaches. He discussed his recent interview with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which had been nearly a year in the making, and only occurred after much rescheduling. Persistence in the face of failure, Yingst told the class, is a key ingredient to becoming a successful journalist.
During his 40-minute talk, Yingst interspersed references to his time as a broadcast journalism student at AU. He specifically mentioned SOC professors Campbell, Bill Gentile, and Margot Susca for their support during and after his college career. Yingst also urged the class to take advantage of what SOC offers and told us to first figure out what we want to do in the world and then to begin doing it immediately.
His message was inspiring, and it was clearly rooted in his own experience on campus. While at AU, Yingst co-founded News2Share, a media outlet that sells stories to major news organizations, reporting from foreign and domestic conflict zones. While taking a full course load, he would travel to trouble spots like Gaza, Ukraine, Baltimore, and Ferguson, MO.
Yingst answered questions from the class thoughtfully, offering his ideas about how to succeed in professional journalism, like the importance of creating genuine relationships, and to avoid superficial networking.
Yingst said he has developed rapport with leaders and lawmakers from across the political spectrum, noting that he can speak to the prime minister of Israel as well as leaders of the Hamas organization. Yingst’s evenhanded philosophy of relationship building extends beyond his journalism career, as he explained that he often uses the same thinking as he navigates difficult conversations among his friends, both Palestinian and Israeli.
As Yingst spoke, I recalled my own experiences in negotiating political differences and confrontation within my circle of friends, and I aspire to achieve the level of fair-mindedness Yingst seems to have mastered. His advice will stay with me as I near graduation and embark into the world. While I will always try to stand up for what I believe, I see deep value in adapting my communication style to form genuine connections and have complex conversations with those who may not agree with me. Our opportunity to talk with Yingst highlighted the importance of this practice.
Ruby Fair is a senior majoring in Communication Studies and minoring in American Studies who plans to graduate in May. She grew up in New York City and studied abroad in Rome during Fall semester 2022.