The Chronicle has awarded its 2012 David W. Miller Award for Young Journalists to Michael Stratford, a 2011 graduate of Cornell University who served as a Chronicle intern this year.
Mr. Stratford received the $3,000 award, which is now in its 10th year, on the strength of three articles he wrote during his internship. The award committee recognized the articles for their range, their in-depth reporting and strong writing, and their coverage of ideas and issues beyond the headlines.
The first article, published in March, used a spate of student suicides at Cornell to explore how colleges seek to prevent students from taking their own lives. Most colleges focus on counseling and education, but a few, fueled in part by new research, are changing physical features of their campuses in order to make it more difficult for would-be suicides to succeed. The strategy, known as means restriction, is based on the theory that at least some suicide attempts are impulsive acts driven by opportunity. At Cornell, for example, the campus's many lofty bridges over scenic gorges have attracted jumpers for years. The university has already installed fences on the bridges, and in August it began construction on nets beneath them, according to The Cornell Daily Sun.
The second article, also from March, describes the advent of a host of "predatory" online journals that snare inexperienced graduate students and other scholars who are eager to be published but don't realize that the journals are exclusively moneymaking operations with no standards, no peer review, and editorial boards formed of faculty members who say they did not agree to serve. The journals do, however, operate under an author-pays model that can charge as much as several thousand dollars to publish an article.
The third article, from February, profiles Joshua A. Boldt, a writing instructor who created the Adjunct Project, a publicly editable spreadsheet for contingent faculty members to record their pay and working conditions. The simple idea of crowdsourcing the collection of such data, as a means of putting adjuncts in a more-informed position as they evaluate job offers, became an immediate hit.
Mr. Stratford, a native of Belmont, Mass., majored in government at Cornell, where he was managing editor of the Sun. It was during his time at the newspaper, he said, that he began covering the issue of student suicides—work that eventually led to his award-winning article for The Chronicle.
He is now covering the federal government and the presidential election for The Chronicle this year. Mr. Stratford said he hoped to stay in journalism, despite the difficult job market, and to focus on political reporting here in Washington. "It's an exciting time to be in journalism," he said, with technological and other changes across the industry providing an opportunity to "reassess and redefine" everything.
The Miller Award commemorates David W. Miller, a senior writer at The Chronicle, who in 2002, at the age of 35, was killed by a drunken driver.
With the award, The Chronicle seeks to honor Mr. Miller's excellence in journalism, his insatiable curiosity about people and ideas, and his talent and love for evocative writing. The award is intended to identify and recognize future generations of reporters who share those values and show the promise of reaching the same level of achievement that Mr. Miller attained. The award is presented annually to a Chronicle intern from the preceding year based on three articles submitted by the candidate.