Student Newspaper Wins 10 Awards at Annual Georgia College Press Association Better Newspaper Contest


MACON – Mercer University's student newspaper, The Cluster, won 10 awards, including five first-place prizes, at the annual Georgia College Press Association Better Newspaper Contest held Feb. 11 in Macon.

The Cluster competes in a division that includes the state's largest college newspapers, such as the University of Georgia's Red & Black, Georgia Institute of Technology's Technique and Georgia State University's The Signal.

“I'm proud to work with such talented and dedicated people who care about the Mercer community,” said editor-in-chief Nick Wooten. “We've put in a lot of hours to make sure we provide the best coverage possible, and it's nice to see people take notice.”

The Cluster staff was recognized with a pair of first-place awards for Best Website, as well as Best Photo Essay for a collection of images chronicling the campuswide response to the death of Mercer basketball player Jibri Bryan.

Staff writer Jayla Moody won first place for Best Column for “Moody Musings.”

Staff photographers Marianna Bacallao and Jenna Eason each earned first place for Best Sports Photo. Bacallao won for an image of the Mercer football team running onto the field prior to a home game versus Tennessee Tech, and Eason for an image of Mercer football player Peyton Usher making a one-handed catch at Georgia Tech.

The Cluster staff was recognized with a second-place award for General Excellence in Photography and two third-place awards for Best Campus Community Service in Sports and Best Campus Community Service in News.

Eason also won a third-place award for Best Sports Photo, and Alex Sandifer earned a third-place award for Best News Photo.

In addition to editor-in-chief Wooten, this year's editorial staff includes managing editor Eason, online editor Sarah Pounds, news editor Katie Atkinson, arts and entertainment editor Mary Lathem, lifestyle and opinion editor Moody, sports editor Justin Baxley, copy editor Carson McGory, photo editor Tiffani Alexander and social media editor Hayes Rule.

Named for a book of songs penned by University founder Jesse Mercer, The Cluster has been published as a bimonthly newspaper since 1920. Distributed freely throughout Mercer's campus, Mercer Village and downtown Macon, the newspaper also maintains a website at Debbie Blankenship, newsroom coordinator at the Center for Collaborative Journalism, serves as the newspaper's adviser.