Student Newspaper Wins Eight Awards at Annual Georgia College Press Association Contest

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MACON – Mercer University's student newspaper, The Cluster, won eight awards, including one first-place prize, at the annual Georgia College Press Association Better Newspaper Contest held Feb. 16 in Athens.

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 am very proud of The Cluster staff for working hard this past year and showing their dedication to the Mercer community,” said editor-in-chief Jenna Eason. “Everyone worked diligently for this paper, and I am looking forward to see members of our staff continue to make progress in the world of journalism.”

Photo editor Marianna Bacallao won first place in the Best Review category for her analysis of the film “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” as well as third place in Best Photo Essay for a recap of the University's opening weekend carnival.

Eason won second place in Best Photograph – Sports for an image of Mercer quarterback Kaelan Riley running the ball against Wofford.

As a staff, The Cluster was recognized with five third-place awards for Best Website, Best Layout and Design, Improvement, Best Campus Community Service, and General Photography

In addition to Eason and Bacallao, this year's staff includes managing editor Katie Atkinson, online editor Sarah Pounds, arts and entertainment editor Jayla Moody, news editor Summer Perritt, sports editor Kyle Mullins, opinions and lifestyle editor Laurel Huster, copy editor Adelia Henderson, advertising manager Rylee Kirk, layout designers Devyn Mode and Caitlyn Patton and lead writers Elizabeth Tammi, Hayes Rule, Emily Harvey and Elliot James.

Named for a book of songs penned by University founder Jesse Mercer, The Cluster has been published as a bimonthly newspaper since 1920. The newspaper is distributed freely throughout Mercer's campus, Mercer Village and downtown Macon and maintains a website at mercercluster.com.

Debbie Blankenship, interim director and newsroom coordinator at the Center for Collaborative Journalism, serves as the newspaper's adviser.

Kyle Sears
Kyle is the director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he coordinates hometown and university news releases and serves as editor of the News@Mercer e-newsletter and Reach magazine.​