Graduating Senior Oliver Redsten's Lifelong Passion for Journalism

Graduating this May, senior Oliver Redsten is a 22-year-old student double-majoring in broadcast journalism and political science, with a minor in history. Redsten found his passion for digital storytelling and journalism at a young age and credits the School of Communication for helping him grow and challenging him to ask “why journalism?”

Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Redsten has known he wanted to be in the broadcast journalism industry since he was five years old. Redsten attributes his passion for journalism to his experiences growing up, including the 2011 state-wide protests over the Wisconsin Act 10, also known as the Scott Walker Budget Repair Bill.

“Because I was the editor of the [high] school newspaper, I had to cover the protests, and that's where I fell in love with journalism. I loved being in the middle of the action, interviewing people, and seeing how passionate they are about different issues,” said Redsten.

During the demonstrations, nearly 100,000 protestors descended on the state capital in opposition of the bill.

Although Redsten’s experiences as the editor of his school newspaper led to his love for journalism, his passion for digital storytelling has a more personal start.

When Redsten was a sophomore in high school, Big Ten Network aired an episode of The Journey featuring his cousins Brett and Kenzi Valentyn. Kenzi had been diagnosed with a rare mitochondrial disease known as Kearns-Sayre syndrome.

Redsten’s whole family got together to watch the feature on Brett and Kenzi.

“We were about 25 people in a room, and by the end of the piece every single person was sobbing. I remember thinking to myself, ‘what other career path can bring an entire room of people to tears?’ I wanted to have a similar impact on people’s lives,” said Redsten.

Kenzi passed away earlier this year, but her legacy continues to live on and inspire her family. Redsten believes growing up with Kenzi and watching the impact of a journalist telling her story was a formative experience in pushing him toward broadcast journalism. 

When it was time to choose a college, it was apparent to Redsten that University of Miami was the ideal place to build the skills he needed to be a broadcast journalist.

“It was clear to me that UM was a place where the professors take an interest in the students. You would think that goes without saying, but in other schools it doesn't. All of the professors that I’ve had have taken the time to get to know me and have taken an active role in my success and development as a journalist,” said Redsten.

Throughout Redsten’s four years, School of Communication professors have challenged him to become a better writer, storyteller, and journalist. According to Redsten, three professors have had the biggest impact on him and his career.

Two of the most challenging classes Redsten has taken at the SoC were taught by Ed Julbe, lecturer for the Department of Journalism and Media Management.

“Julbe taught me everything I know about visual storytelling. When I first got here I was really bad at it. He was tough on me and I resented him at the time, but it’s an invaluable resource that I have thanks to him,” said Redsten. 

Boriana Treadwell, lecturer for the Department of Journalism and Media Management, has been a mentor to Redsten. According to Redsten, Treadwell taught him a lot about journalism ethics and why the industry is so important. She helped him grow an appreciation for journalism and its role in society.

Craig Stevens, adjunct professor for the Department of Journalism and Media Management and WSVN anchor, has also been a mentor to Redsten.

Redsten took Stevens’ television performance class nearly two years ago. During the class, Stevens taught him the mechanics of how to be a good journalist and has coached him throughout the entire job-searching process.

During his time on campus, Redsten has been a part of multiple organizations at the SoC and around the university. Redsten has served as an anchor, reporter, executive producer, and online editor for UMTV, UM’s award-winning cable channel. Currently, he is the station manager for UMTV and oversees all seven programs and every student journalist.

Redsten is the co-chair of the Dean’s Student Circle, a group of SoC students who act as liaisons between the school and incoming students, alumni, and guests. Redsten is also a brother of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, and the president of the Greek honor society, Order of Omega.

After graduation, Redsten is moving to Fort Myers, Fla to work as a reporter for WINK News, the CBS affiliate for most of Southwest Florida.

According to Redsten, those looking to begin their career in broadcast journalism should do it because they’re passionate about story telling.

“If you’re doing this just be on TV, don't do it. Broadcast journalism is not about fame or being recognized. It’s about making an impact on people’s lives, and being a storyteller. Do it because you want to meet incredible people or have new experiences, or shape policy through expository journalism,” said Redsten.