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Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Famer Barbara Allen.

Cowboy Way: OSU grad inducted into state journalism Hall of Fame

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Media Contact: Mack Burke | Associate Director of Media Relations | 405-744-5540 |

Barbara Allen didn’t have a specific career plan. The Oklahoma State University alumna just knew she wanted to be a writer.

At a party during her first week of college, she heard that if she wanted to major in journalism at OSU, she needed to work at The O’Colly. So, Allen walked into the basement of the Paul Miller Journalism and Broadcasting Building, taking the first step toward a career that has spanned 30 years. In April, she was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame.

Upon news of her induction, Allen tried to make jokes with her nominator. Allen had never really thought of herself as a hall of famer. She said she always just did what she thought was right.

With three weeks remaining in her sophomore year, Allen realized she picked the correct field. That semester, The O’Colly, under the guidance of advisor Jack Lancaster, covered the Oklahoma City bombing extensively. Timothy McVeigh was ultimately arrested just 30 minutes from Stillwater.

“At a press conference, I look to my left and there’s a person with a press badge that said The Washington Post and I look to the right and there was a person with a press badge that said The New York Times and I thought ‘I can do this, I can totally do this. I want to do this. I want to do more like this. I want to tell the stories,’” Allen said.

After graduating from OSU in 1997 with her bachelor’s degree in news editorial journalism, Allen went to her hometown paper, the Tulsa World, where she helped incorporate Satellite, a section by, for and about Tulsa-area high schoolers.

“It really introduced me to journalism education, to the concept of working with students, and how fulfilling and rewarding that can be to empower them a little bit,” she said.

Allen then earned her master’s degree in 2009 from the University of Missouri and returned to OSU to shepherd The O’Colly as advisor. Eventually, she also began teaching classes each semester. She inspired students to make a difference in journalism, whether it be at a national outlet or a small-town paper.

After a decade at OSU, Allen took a leap and applied for a position as managing editor at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, Florida. For the past two years, she’s been the director of college programming, helping students and educators in the everchanging world of journalism. In her role, she continues to share the values she learned at OSU and The O’Colly.

She is thankful for the support of her husband, OSU alumnus Billy Berkenbile, stepsons Cal and Sam, and daughter, Vivian, who graduated from OSU in May.

“You’re given a great amount of power in a newsroom,” Allen said. “You have a great responsibility, and OSU and The O’Colly were the first places where I really felt connected to a bigger part of the universe and saw the impact of what doing a little research and reporting can do once you hit publish."

Photo by: Phil Shockley

Story by: Jordan Bishop | STATE Magazine

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