Innovation in the media – Interview with Trey Yingst

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By – Stephen O’Brien 

Griffith College 

3rd year journalism student 

Trey Yingst is the co-founder of News2Share and a well-known journalist in the United States for his coverage of international conflict zones, protests and riots. Trey’s coverage of the Baltimore, Ferguson and the Gaza Strip have been featured on major mainstream news outlets, such as; CNN, BBC and The New York Times to name a few. With these impressive accomplishments, it is worthwhile to note that Yingst is still an undergraduate student studying Journalism in an Washington D.C, college life for Trey has been far from ‘ordinary’. During the college semester he attempts to carry out coverage of global issues, opting to be at the heart of the riots or protests, while most other students are studying for their exams.

Yingst recalls, “The most memorable place I’ve covered is the Gaza Strip during the 2014 war. At age 20, I was the youngest journalist to enter Gaza during the war. Although my time in Gaza was filled with death, rockets and bombs, what stands out to me are the stories of people trapped in the conflict. During my time there, I visited a UN refugee camp and interviewed many young children. I always try to put a face to the conflict and often children are a good way to help people relate to the story. These kids didn’t want war, they didn’t want death, they just wanted to play games. I often think about this refugee camp and hope the children that I passed a soccer ball with are doing well.”

Yingst’s intention is to showcase high quality video content, commentary and analysis on global issues. He often gets inspiration from Vice news. His media start up, News2share, attempts to utilise video content as a way of attracting and interacting with a millennial audience. He thrives on sharing content through social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, which present great opportunity to interact and engage with users. However, even with the millions of users on social media, reaching audiences always presents its challenges. Yingst states “Funding is the main issue. Since everyone uses the internet, it’s difficult for outlets to make money in a traditional way. This is pushing companies to be more creative about how they display their content.” Although these issues are not likely to inhibit the young muckraker, conflict reporting does have obstacles in itself, whereby Yingst adds, “International reporting is dangerous. It always has been, but we face new threats. Kidnapping for ransom and the beheading of journalists is something that should not be taken lightly. If the messenger is killed, who will be there to hold our global society accountable?”

Furthermore, Yingst has faced his own challenges on US soil, sharing, “In Baltimore a group of reporters and I were attacked by a mob. They didn’t want it to be documented that they were looting stores, so they decided to attack with hammers and bottles.” Despite hurdles, his bravery, charisma and passion to unveil the truth is visible in his search  through conflict zones striving to maintain personal objectivity in all destinations. He admits that while his own opinions may be formed after conducting primary research and interviews, he tries adequately to get all sides of the story and still present the news objectively. To him, journalism is about keeping the integrity of a human being and raising awareness of how conflicts are affecting all surrounding communities.

Yingst’s intense front line reporting, polite manner and genuine persona are traits he claims has aided him in obtaining exclusive interviews, also adding  “Our job as journalists is to cover that news, but also to look deeper into it. What is causing this? Are there deeper issues in the community causing people to act this way? How are people trapped in the violence handling it? These are the types of questions media outlets need to be asking.”  The perseverance in pursuing a deeper meaning of the story has led to him learning from many credible sources. With that said, Yingst does not believe in solely relying on the government or corporation for information, as he believes politicians and CEO’s intentions and messages do not align with objective reporting. He says, “Their main job is to protect their image. Sometimes you must rely on these types of sources, but be aware they may have an agenda.”

So far Yingst’s career has been filled with plenty of opportunities. Being the youngest journalist to cover the Ferguson Michael Brown case, his work continues to provide coverage even into the aftermath of the riots, grand jury decision and the one year anniversary. He was even up close and personal, being the only journalist allowed in a private meeting between the leader of the KKK and the hacktavist group Anonymous. He recalls, “When the riots broke out, I was on the front lines doing my best to inform viewers around the world about what was unfolding. During my time in Ferguson, I provided commentary for a number of outlets including BBC and sold footage to outlets such as CNN.”

Today, the ever changing nature of the media landscape has shifted towards traditional media conforming to mainstream demands. Asking Yingst’s predictions for the future of the industry, he states, “I think people are going to want to experience the news. Technology like virtual reality and 360 video are going to become crucial in storytelling. Many people say that journalism is a dying craft. I don’t think it’s dying, I think it’s changing. 15 years from now, we will be telling stories with pieces of technology that don’t even exist yet.”

Inspiration came in many forms for the young journalist but he stated his biggest idol was CNN journalist Anderson Cooper. He aspires to influences millions eventually like that of Cooper’s work today. Yingst is excited for how news will be reported more frequently in the upcoming future. He states, “The opportunities presented of reaching a wide audience through the advances of modern technology like social media inevitably has changed coverage. Live coverage is no longer just via a television broadcast. Now when breaking news happens, it is expected that journalists on the ground will be live-tweeting or live-streaming. I love integrating social media into my reporting because it allows my viewers to engage in my reporting.”

The News2Share website which Trey Yingst and co-founder Ford Fischer created intends to collect user generated content to create a platform which is interactive and engaging, particularly towards millennials. He shares, “Our generation loves shareable video and they are a great way to develop a solid audience. Facebook in particular has been a really valuable tool to engage my audience.” As for Trey’s future – he says he intends on continuing to work on new ideas and chase the news of the week to share with the world. He advises aspiring journalists to do the same. He encourages his generation to push the boundaries and work hard no matter what, regardless of age. “Prove them wrong”, he says.

For more information on Trey Yingst or to read more on his news stories, visit www.news2share.com.

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