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Ashton Slaughter poses for a headshot.

OSU’s Slaughter named finalist for 64th Hearst Journalism Writing award

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Media Contact: Page Mindedahl | Communications Specialist | 405-744-9782 |

Oklahoma State University senior Ashton Slaughter finished as one of five finalists for the 64th annual Hearst Journalism Writing Award on June 6 in San Francisco. 

Established in 1960, the program aims to support, encourage and assist journalism education at colleges and universities. It awards scholarships to students for exceptional performance in college-level journalism, along with matching grants to their institutions.

In its 64th year, the program offered up to $700,000 in awards through various competitions: five monthly writing contests, two photojournalism contests, one audio contest, two television contests and four multimedia contests, culminating in championship finals across all categories.

Slaughter, the “O'Colly” sports editor and OSU School of Media and Strategic Communications student, was chosen as a championship qualifier May 15 after being selected from 606 entries. The first-place winner was Marissa Meador from Indiana University. 

“It was a really cool honor. We have great journalists at OSU, especially in the ‘O’Colly,’ doing great work. I think that it was really cool to know that we made some recognition on a national level,” Slaughter said.

Slaughter was accompanied by the ‘O'Colly's’ new newsroom advisor, Brett Dawson, who started with the newspaper at the beginning of May. 

“For Ashton just to be selected, from among hundreds of writing submissions, speaks so highly of the work he did over the past year at the ‘O'Colly,’” Dawson said. “But beyond the honor of representing Oklahoma State among such prestigious company, he had a week he'll never forget. He worked hard, of course, and produced tremendous work, but he also formed bonds with the other finalists that will last him a long time.”

Slaughter wrote two articles for the competition. One was a news piece based on an interview with former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. His championship assignment focused on Waymo, an autonomous car company in the San Francisco area offering improved rideshare options for the disabled community.

Slaughter received a $1,500 scholarship for his writing, but he believes the greatest reward from this experience wasn't the money.

“The people were just phenomenal. I mean seeing what all other people are doing and interacting with all different types of people in media, you see where you can do better and what you're good at,” Slaughter said. “Also seeing what all these other top-notch schools are doing and thinking ‘OSU can be doing that.’”

This is only the second time an OSU student has represented the university at the Hearst Awards. In 2016, Cody Stavenhagen received second place and a $4,000 scholarship in the 56th cycle of the awards for his three stories. He also won Best Reporting Technique for his ‘O’Colly’ story, “And then there was a football game.” 

The William Randolph Hearst Foundation, created by the published of the same name in 1948 under California nonprofit laws, is dedicated exclusively to educational and charitable purposes. Since its inception, The Hearst Foundations have donated over $1 billion to support education, health care, social services, and the arts nationwide.

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