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CUA senior balances his full-time broadcasting job with studies

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Joseph Olmo, a senior at The Catholic University of America in Washington, always knew a career in broadcast journalism was his path. Now Olmo, a media and communication studies student, works full-time as a news anchor for WDVM-TV while balancing his time as a student.

"I’ve always imagined having a microphone in my hand, a camera in front of me and a story to tell," said Olmo. "Even as a kid, I would grab a pen and stand in the living room or in front of a mirror, play the theme of NBC "Nightly News," dress up in a suit and start reading off that day’s news. That childhood impulse drove me to start looking for opportunities to get my hands and feet wet in journalism."

In March of 2018, Olmo made his dreams a reality when he began to contribute to the crowd-sourced, volunteer journalism outlet The Arundel Patriot, where he interviewed candidates and incumbents during the 2018 midterm election season. From there, he networked with other local journalists and began freelancing for the Spanish-language Central America TV (CATV) network, eventually traveling to San Salvador, El Salvador, in 2019 to cover the country’s presidential inauguration.

"It’s been a roller coaster of opportunities — the people that I’ve been honored to talk with, and the stories I’ve been able to tell for nearly the past three years," Olmo said. "Many veteran journalists describe the profession by saying that we have a ‘front row seat to history.’ That couldn’t be more true."

After his return to the United States, Olmo began freelance reporting for Spanish-language shows, including "Tu Salud Tu Familia," a health-based television program that airs on the Telemundo 44 (WZDC) network.

"I was assigned to go out every week and find a story about someone who was experiencing whatever topic we were talking about in that particular episode, such as breast cancer, lung cancer, diabetes, lupus," said Olmo. "I was humbled that people would trust me to come into their home and tell their story."

Olmo says he believes that now is an important time for students to enter the journalism field.

"The pandemic has proven the quintessential need for fact-checked and verified information," Olmo said. "We live in a democracy and have the right to know what is truly going on in our country. We all have the desire to be informed and for folks to hold public officials accountable. And, just as it’s important to talk about what’s happening at a national level, it’s very important for people to know what’s going on in their own communities as well.

"We’re living in an age of information-overload, and it’s so important that younger folks get into journalism to offer fresher perspectives on how to inform their audience in a transparent way," he added.

From his own experiences, Olmo has learned that networking, building experience, listening and asking questions are essential activities for any student interested in entering the journalism field. Another necessary ingredient for success, he believes, is passion.

"Stumbling upon a particular project can mean the world in getting you to that next step in your career — never pass up an opportunity because you think it’s too small," Olmo said. "Folks should get into this industry because they love storytelling and seeing the impact that their work can have on peoples’ lives … not because of a paycheck."

Olmo credits his experience at Catholic U. as a driving force in his career, enabling him to think critically and challenge him both academically and professionally.

"Not everyone has the time to read a 500-page report on an investigation, look up the latest press release from your local police department or clarify the stance of an elected official," Olmo said. "That’s where journalists come into play.

"Catholic University has taught me something priceless: to think critically and decisively. We receive large quantities of information within, sometimes, a matter of minutes. And, having that critical-thinking skill base is essential in being able to pick out which details are key, to then relay them in a digestible, easy-to-understand manner to our viewers," he added. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021