Trey Yingst Talks Covering the Middle East for Fox News and His Axel Springer Award (Exclusive)

By Ethan Alter 

As Fox News’ youngest foreign correspondent, Trey Yingst is accustomed to spending long stretches abroad. But the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania native didn’t expect to be overseas for an entire year, hopping between such hot spots as Ukraine, Morocco and the Middle East before finally returning home for a quick visit ahead of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

I interviewed President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv for the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion,” Yingst tells TVNewser about his busy 2023-2024 itinerary. “Then we covered the earthquakes in Morocco from the Atlas Mountains. Then Oct. 7 happened and we were the first international team in southern Israel. Normally, I come back to the U.S. to see family and friends [between stories], but the news cycle has been so intense. It’s just a product of how busy we are covering these stories from around the world.”

By the time you read this, Yingst will already be back at work overseas. But first, he’s picking up some new hardware. TVNewser can exclusively reveal that the 30-year-old correspondent is the latest recipient of the George Weidenfeld Prize, named after the British publisher and presented by the Axel Springer Academy to young journalists who have demonstrated great courage in their reporting.


“It’s an honor to receive such an award,” Yingst says. “Especially one named after a man like George Weidenfeld, who embodies what I try to do as a journalist—build bridges between people and make them feel empathy for others. But it’s also an honor that I don’t want to take full credit for; I have a production team and a leadership team behind me that helps put me in positions where we can lead coverage around the world.”

Based in Jerusalem, Yingst is particularly proud of his team’s coverage of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, which he’s spent the past six months reporting. “We’ve been able to hear from a variety of voices, including Israelis and Palestinians, to understand what the war means,” he notes. “There are a lot of moving parts, and we try to cover it all.”

“My role as a journalist is to shine a light in dark places,” Yingst continues. “It’s also to hold those in power accountable on both sides, and to be a voice to the voiceless. I think you’ll always see all that in my reporting.”

Watch Trey Yingst’s George Weidenfeld Prize video and read the rest of our interview below.

(This interview has been edited for length and clarity)

You’ve been in the Middle East since October covering the war. How has the situation evolved for those on the ground versus for those of us watching at home?

The reality is that war is horrific—there are no winners in a war. It’s heavy to see such suffering in a place that I’ve lived for almost six years now while covering these events. It’s also challenging, because war often creates a lack of empathy among the people involved. That can be disheartening, but I still want to go to the places that other people won’t go and tell the stories other people won’t tell with one major goal in mind: To make people care and to make people see that even though Israelis and Palestinians have had vastly different experiences and led vastly different lives, they’re all people.

In terms of the public reaction to the news coverage, there’s been a tendency to choose sides. How do you pursue your reporting knowing that viewers are going to be looking for signs of bias?

I always remember that my role is to be an objective observer and understand the complexities of such a conflict, be delicate in my reporting and be thoughtful in the language that I use. There are many flashpoints in the Middle East; one example is how Muslims refer to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound while Jews refer to the same location as Temple Mount. It’s not my role to pick a name. I’ll report both—even if takes a little longer—in order to help the audience understand that this is land that is being fought over and people are suffering across the spectrum.

I also try to meet a variety of people, from an ice cream shop owner to a suicide bomber. I meet Israelis who are peace-loving activists who want to live side-by-side with the Palestinians and some who hate Palestinians for reasons that I don’t always comprehend. We’ve never jumped the gun on any of our stories. These are political, emotional and controversial stories and so we’ve been patient and thoughtful in our reporting. We’ve done that from the beginning of this war.

‘I always remember that my role is to be an objective observer,’ says Yingst. (Courtesy Fox News)

Has there been a moment where you’ve been genuinely afraid for your life?

One time we were inside Gaza City during a nighttime raid conducted by the Israelis and they were in a firefight with Hamas. It was so dark that I couldn’t see my hands and all you’re hearing is gunfire. You just keep moving and trying to get the story. I also have a security consultant next to me the entire time with a med kit. He’s a former operator from the Australian special forces, and he knows what’s going on all the time. I always consult with him and make sure make decisions that are the best for our team.

A cameraman you worked extensively with in Ukraine, Pierre Zakrzewski, was killed in 2022 while in the field. How have you processed that loss?

That was a challenging time for everyone, but I continue to do this work in his honor. Many journalists who work with us will tell you the same thing: We want to stay focused on the mission and that mission is to continue to deliver these stories from around the world. That’s what Pierre was on the ground doing in Ukraine and that’s what we’ll continue to do in the Middle East. I’m proud to work at a place that puts so many resources into covering these stories. Fox News has been committed to making sure we have the flexibility to get on the ground, stay on the ground and have teams in place and that makes my life easier as a war correspondent.

You rose to prominence after a 2017 exchange with then-White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. You were with OAN then and Fox News now and both networks have the reputation for being conservative-leaning. Do you pay attention to the way the outlets that you’re reporting for are perceived by the public?

No, I’m always just focused on what I’m doing. I’ve been approaching this craft the same way since I was 20 years old and reporting in the field for a company called News2Share that I co-founded with a university friend. I’m now leading foreign coverage for Fox, but my approach to journalism has remained the same: To ensure that there are no politics at play and that I’m able to report these stories clearly.

To be a great journalist, I think you have to be respected and earn the trust of your audience and the people you’re sourcing up with. There are no reporters in the Middle East today who can say that they have reported from the Israeli prime minster’s plane and sat down for tea with the leaders of Hamas within the same month. I have that type of access because people know I’m a straight shooter and always have been. I love this industry and look to the greats before us like Walter Cronkite and Edward Murrow and think about how they would want the craft to be practiced. And then I do the same thing.

You’ll likely be doing this work for decades to come—how would you like to see the media evolve and how do you hope to help lead the charge?

I’ve started to use a lot of social media in my reporting to make sure we’re reaching that younger audience that may not be consuming news on TV. That’s certainly part of the shift in the industry. There are so many brilliant people at Fox like Jennifer Griffin and Benjamin Hall who have their own brand and do these really unique stories. I look to people like that, people who have their own brand and are good at what they do.

Despite what some will say, I think journalism is very much alive and well. It plays a critical role to hold militaries and governments accountable, not only in the U.S., but around the world. I see the future consisting of people continuing to build their own brands at places that support them and allow them to do objective journalism in the field. If that happens, the industry will continue to flourish.

Yingst spent much of 2023-2024 abroad in Ukraine, Morocco and the Middle East. (Courtesy Fox News)

Where are you headed next?  

I’ll definitely go back to Israel. I’m looking forward to when journalists are able to access Gaza independently; so far, a variety of Palestinian journalists have been doing incredible work on the ground to bear witness, but we’re not able to get into Gaza right now.

I’d also like to get back to Ukraine. I was there for more than 185 days during the first year of the war and I’d like to continue covering the story, which has a lot of implications for the entire world. So that’ll be my focus for the next year and, if I can swing it, maybe fit in a trip to Afghanistan to do some reporting there.