Alumni Corner - Dylan O'Neill

Dylan O’Neill, Deputy Editor in 2018-2019, discusses what convinced him to join the University Observer – and further pursue a career in the media industry.

Few can deny the power that media has over impressionable young minds seeking fame and glory in what they tell themselves is “the most ethical way possible”, so it will come as no surprise that Ugly Betty and The Devil Wears Prada had a significant influence on my career path.  

However, in what is probably a direct inversion of every message made by a Netflix Christmas rom-com, it was love (or at least a healthy level of infatuation) that was behind my decision to join the University Observer as a third-year science undergraduate.  

Some may say it was happenstance that a person I had a crush on was a co-editor for OTwo at the time, but I saw it as an opportunity to use my trove of pop culture references – cultivated over the many years of my sheltered youth and failed musical theatre auditions – to impress them.  

Plus, who doesn’t want to see their name in the paper?  

So off I popped to the office pitch meetings, seizing on the opportunity to regale them with my nuanced first-year elective take on the role of the sidekick in coming-of-age fiction (or bildungsroman for all you cultured readers). 

In a case of life imitating art, it was through writing these pieces that I discovered I could translate my love for storytelling from the stage, as a hobby, to the newspaper column.  

When it came time to apply for section editor roles in the summer months before my final year, I set my sights on Arts and Literature editor and was delighted to receive the email from then incoming editor and deputy editor Aoife Hardesty and Ruth Murphy welcoming me to the team (my parents less so). 

The proceeding months were a montage of coffee trips, paper distribution, impeachment campaigns, and promotions. I helped at production weekends, picking up extra news or comment stories, just to get an extra fix of feeling like I was in the know. 

All that work paid off when I was promoted to the role of OTwo co-editor alongside Claudia Dalby ahead of the second semester. Together we decided the editorial direction of OTwo, and having an equal say in the running made me feel like Varys from Game of Thrones.  

It was then that I realised my dream was to run my own arts and culture magazine, so I looked at what steps I needed to take, deciding to postpone accepting my master’s degree offer from DCU to be deputy editor of the University Observer after I graduated. 

Being deputy editor of Vol XXV seemed like a daunting task when I first met with then editor Brían Donnelly, but together we planned out the year, selected our team, dealt with the challenges that arose, and even won a few awards along the way.  

It may seem corny to write that I can’t pick a single moment that really sticks out as a highlight of the year, but it really is a testament to the great team and times I had during Vol XXV – from the reunion dinner, to the post-production pints, to repeatedly playing “The I Love You Song” from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee in the office (much to Brían’s dismay). 

Although winning the inaugural Student Publication Association’s Best Human Rights Story award is a close second. Take that Smedias!