Gideon Yago of MTV is Open VISIONS Forum speaker


For much of the past 10 years, Gideon Yago has been MTV's star reporter, as well as the man millions of young adults turn to for news. Yago, 29, has filed reports from the world's troubled places, including Iraq, Kuwait, Pakistan and New Orleans. He has interviewed world leaders and the top newsmakers of our times, including President George W. Bush, former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, Senator John Kerry and Bill Gates.

On Thursday, March 1, Open VISIONS Forum, a distinguished lecture series of University College at Fairfield University, will present Yago, who will give a talk entitled, "Israelis, Palestinians and Iraqis: MTV News Correspondent." The event is co-sponsored by the Fairfield University Student Association. The event will begin at 8 p.m. and will take place at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. For tickets, visit ww.quickcenter.com or call (203) 254-4010 or 1-877-ARTS-396.

The Village Voice called him "increasingly influential." Newsday reported a public opinion poll revealed that Yago held more sway among newscasters during the 2004 presidential campaign coverage than Dan Rather. Yago has filled an important niche, that of prominent, pivotal and vibrant newsman to young America. It is a crucial role these days and a key one in broadcasting considering more and more of the younger generation are turning off the TV in favor of surfing the Internet to get their news.

David J. Gudelunas, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication in the College of Arts and Sciences, said that Yago's news reporting both resonates with young people and shows respect for them. "Mr. Yago hasn't really reported on different stories than most other news sources, what he has done differently is to earn the trust and respect of an audience that increasingly does not trust traditional news sources. Mr. Yago has covered important topics ranging from electoral politics to hate crimes that have raised the level of discourse among young voters."

Yago has been very involved in MTV's "Choose or Lose" campaign, which aims to interest young people in the political process and voter registration. He is known for traveling the world to report the news and for giving frank, first-hand perspective on current events for both MTV and CBS News.

In 'Reporting from Iraq,' Yago wrote in his MTV online diary, "The debate over Iraq in this country has been framed almost entirely in regards to 9/11, but the young people of Iraq have better, longer memories than that - they remember a time when Saddam was our strategic ally, and they remember U.S. promises to the Iraqi people that remain unfulfilled."

In "Gideon's Journeys in Kuwait - The Story of Those Left Behind," he also offered perspective of young America when he wrote in 2003 of the troops, "What those troops in the Gulf face in the coming months will invariably affect the homes that they return to and the world that they, their families and their friends will inherit. If there is no separation from the frontlines and the home front anymore - at least that's why we're about to get into this war, isn't it? - then will this conflict make their friends and families more secure?"

He is not afraid to ask the tough questions or say what he feels needs to be said.

The U.S. Department of State even posted his interview with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on its web site. After she urged young people to travel internationally so to understand other cultures, Yago commented that he feels that there is a post 9/11 fear among American college students. Many pondering studying abroad worry for their safety and are concerned about how they will be treated outside the U.S., he told Secretary Rice.

Last year, he was the recipient of the YOUR Developments in Literacy (DIL) Leadership Award. The literacy organization credited Yago with raising awareness about the severity of a tremendous South Asian earthquake. According to DIL, his video diary helped bring a positive shift in attention to the plight of the earthquake victims, and narrowly averted a potentially massive-humanitarian crisis.

He has been applauded for his numerous documentaries and special reports. He has worked on noted special reports on hate crimes, 9/11, sexual health, and the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections.

Born in Wisconsin in 1978 and raised in Queens, N.Y., Yago graduated Columbia University with a degree in European History. He began working for MTV in 2000 during the presidential election. He started as a writer for the news department, and then later wrote and produced the network's news magazine show "The Wrap" on MTV2. Viewers also know him for writing and delivering MTV's "10-to-the-hour" news segment. He has written for Rolling Stone, Spin and Vice magazines.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 20, 2007

Vol. 39, No. 153