When Céilí Doyle toured Miami University as a high school senior, all she knew was that she wanted to write. What she didn’t know is where writing would take her — literally.
The Chicago native certainly didn’t expect it to take her to Appalachian Ohio, or to a barge on the Ohio river cleaning trash or alligator hunting in Texas. Least of all, she didn’t anticipate her writing to land her on Miami’s 18 of the last 9 alumni list.
Entering Miami as a writing scholar, Doyle (’20) immediately joined The Miami Student as a journalism major, where she developed impressive reporting skills and undertook multiple heavy-hitting stories.
James Tobin, a professor of journalism at Miami and former adviser for The Student, said Doyle immediately stood out as a student and a journalist.
“[You have] to be aggressive and have the old-fashioned word ‘gumption’ when it comes to pursuing sources and pursuing information,” Tobin said. “Céilí had that, and she’s had it from day one.”
After graduating, she landed a job with Report for America, where she worked for the Columbus Dispatch, covering rural issues in Ohio. There, she earned the Ohio Associated Press Media Editors’ Rising Star Award, awarded to journalists with less than five years of professional experience.
That was until a coworker at the Dispatch let her know about a new startup newsroom in Houston, again taking her somewhere she never expected to go.
“This was before the Landing even had a name,” Doyle said. “I was curious, but I was adamant that I was not going to live in Texas; yet here I am, having lived in Texas for over a year.”
At Houston Landing, Doyle works as a reporter covering the region’s suburbs and rural communities. After just over a year, Doyle has made a major impact on the community through her investigative piece in Liberty County.
“It’s about this developer who has used some pretty sketchy lending practices to attract largely undocumented folks to the area and buy lots of land,” Doyle said. “We’ve published six stories [about the developer] so far.”
Shortly following Doyle and the Landing’s coverage, the Department of Justice filed a federal lawsuit against the developer, corroborating their reporting. Doyle said she loves her job because she gets to learn something new every day with each story.
This year, Doyle was included in Miami’s “18 of the last 9,” the university’s highest alumni award that honors 18 alumni from the past nine years — loosely based on Forbes “30 under 30,” but inspired by 1809, the year Miami was founded. The award was created by the Miami University Alumni Association to acknowledge recent graduates who “lead, innovate or create a significant positive impact on the world around them” through their work or service.
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Doyle said she was incredibly honored to be recognized by Miami for her work and looks forward to visiting the university to speak with journalism students.
“I’m so grateful,” Doyle said. “I loved my Miami experience, and I appreciate the opportunity to come back and share a bit about my experiences and show folks that yes, you can make it in this industry. It’s not easy, but it’s 100% worth it.”
Tim Carlin, a Miami alum (‘22) who also works at the Landing, said Doyle has been a source of inspiration for him as a journalist since meeting her at The Miami Student his first year.
“She truly embodied what it meant and what it means to put your heart and your soul into the stories that you tell,” Carlin said. “She is very, very passionate and just believes so wholeheartedly in the work that she does.”
Carlin said that Doyle, his editor when he first joined The Student, taught him what it really means to do journalism.
“We were handling some really hard topics, you know, fraternities getting suspended for hazing violations, sexual assault on campus,” Carlin said, “and she really taught me how to cover things with grace and with humility and with empathy.”
Despite her talent and diligence, Doyle considers herself lucky to have a job in an industry as competitive as journalism. Several newsrooms have seen mass layoffs in recent weeks, including the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times. At The Landing, two employees were fired as part of a "company reset," Doyle said.
“Our industry is very fickle, and the work we do is important,” Doyle said. “It’s sometimes hard to square those two things. That the people who have the power and the authority to make those decisions don't necessarily have the same perspective or altruistic values that the journalists who produce these stories and create the stories and tell the stories do.”
The dwindling career options for journalists extend to academia as well — even at Miami. Tobin said that despite journalism graduates being consistently recognized in the 18 of the last 9, the department hasn’t been getting new faculty positions.
“The journalism faculty has been stressed in the last few years,” Tobin said. “And yet they seem to value the graduates that we're turning out, so I wish they'd sort of put two and two together and give us some more faculty.”