By Reagan Berg
Obtaining Harvey Updyke’s confession to poisoning the Toomer’s Oaks jumpstarted Andrew Yawn’s career as a journalist.
After serving as editor of The Plainsman and completing an internship with the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, Yawn ‘15 took his current job at the Montgomery Advertiser as a breaking news reporter, covering ‘here and now’ stories, city government, and Montgomery events. “With the way newsrooms go nowadays, everyone does a little bit of everything. Sometimes I write, sometimes I shoot and edit video and I do a little bit of social media. You have to be well rounded,” Yawn said.
Yawn said he chose his career as journalist because “I’m bad at being on the ‘other side’.” “I hate talking about myself and I’m better at asking the questions. I love hearing other people’s stories and getting to know them because every time you walk down a street, every person you pass has 50 to 100 stories that are all things you would want to hear. It’s rewarding to be able to have a job where I’m allowed to go ask them about it and tell other people.”
Stories worth sharing don’t always have to be found in a bigger city like Montgomery. Yawn said his favorite story that was published in The Plainsman was of a man, Wayne Keith, in the small town of Springville, Ala. who builds trucks that run on wood instead of gasoline. Keith never received a college degree, but rather relied on hard work. Yawn found the story of building his own home and innovating the automotive industry to be so awe-inspiring that he had to tell it.
For the Advertiser, he was able to cover presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton when they came to Alabama last year, saying it was “amazing to be in something of that scope” and that he feels privileged to be in such a position.
“I think journalism more than ever now has a responsibility to evaluate the truth and put out the best version of it with the sides you want to hear and don’t want to hear. I enjoy that responsibility of keeping people informed with all the facts and letting them decide for themselves what they want to know,” Yawn said.
Selected works by Andrew Yawn from the Montgomery Advertiser
As a reporter, he avidly seeks the truth and lets no story go unchecked. “If you want to try to get a quote from the president, send a letter to the White House. At worst it’s another no, but it’s a lot better than if you had never done it.”
Whether he is covering Capitol Hill or a local story, he often reflects on his Auburn roots. “Auburn puts a stamp on you. You’re either Auburn or you’re not, so there’s always a great number of people who I’m interviewing and get to talking afterwards. They’ll ask, ‘So, you went to Auburn? War eagle’ and all of a sudden you’re on this new plain of comfort where you might want to ask them a few more questions.”