Sources: Jason Strachman Miller, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Kimetris Baltrip, 785-532-3351, email@example.com;
and Steve Wolgast, 785-532-0720, firstname.lastname@example.org
News release prepared by: Tyler Sharp, 785-532-2535, email@example.com
Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010
COLLEGIAN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF WINNER OF ROLLING STONE JOURNALISM CONTEST
MANHATTAN -- A Kansas State University journalism student's profile of a student who underwent a heterosexual conversion therapy program is the winner of the 2010 Rolling Stone Collegiate Journalism Competition.
Jason Strachman Miller, senior in mass communications, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and current editor-in-chief of the Kansas State Collegian, wrote the profile, which appeared in the Collegian as part of a five-part series in December 2009. The package examined the relationship between the gay community, a local gay-friendly church and a local church offering therapy programs to live a heterosexual lifestyle. Two parts of the series were devoted to the student's conversion experience.
The award includes $2,500.
Miller said the story would not have happened if not for his computer-assisted reporting class. As the Collegian's metro editor in fall 2009, Miller had a sizable workload. However, a class project to produce an investigative multimedia package gave him the idea and allowed ample time to research what interested him. Kim "Doc" Baltrip, assistant professor of journalism and mass communications and class instructor, was Miller's mentor during the project.
"She was as excited to see the story unfold as I was," Miller said. "She checked in with everyone regularly and gave tips and editing notes. Having a professional journalist available to bounce ideas off was a tremendous help. Doc also helped in the editing process of the profile. I wrote so much, and she gave me great input to make it more concise."
Steve Wolgast, Collegian adviser and assistant professor of journalism and mass communications, also assisted with editing the story.
"They never took my voice away or told me to change any part of it; instead, they offered suggestions about places it was weak and areas that could be made more concise," Miller said. "Having people read your work is huge with investigative stories. By the end I had been writing and reading these stories so many times that I was caught up in them; they were able to look at them with fresh eyes and offer much needed feedback."
The story received some amazing feedback, according to Miller. It was posted to reddit.com where it received so many hits during the series that the Collegian set some records. A lot of discussion on campus and in classes surrounded the story, Miller said.
"That made me really happy," he said.
Miller set out to find a journalism contest where he could submit the series. Ultimately deciding the profile stood best alone, he entered the Rolling Stone competition, hoping to see how the story would rank. When the magazine notified him that he had won, Miller said he was speechless.
As part of the award, Miller earned a brief mention in Rolling Stone's mid-October issue, which is on sale now. The mention includes a photo of Miller taken by Matt Binter, senior in sociology, Wichita, and Collegian photo editor.
Baltrip said Miller is very deserving of the recognition.
"He worked so hard on this story for my computer-assisted reporting class," she said. "He was so passionate, and that passion has led him to this amazing award. We are all so proud of him."
The series shows Miller at his best, Wolgast said.
"He's curious, and he's focused on getting good interviews," Wolgast said. "He's also able to get his sources to trust him, and without that he wouldn't have been able to get the amazing stories that are in his articles. It shows what college journalists are capable of, and it shows how the Collegian can be a great place for a journalism major to start a career."
Miller plans to graduate in spring 2011 and hopes to work in the field of journalism and mass communications, ideally writing stories like this one.
"I'm really glad Rolling Stone's announcement could bring national and worldwide attention to this story," he said. "It was an incredible story and I've felt honored to tell it."