Student Newspaper Wins Seven Awards at Annual Georgia College Press Association Luncheon


MACON – Mercer University's student newspaper, The Cluster, won seven awards, including first place for Best Review, at the Georgia College Press Association Awards Luncheon Saturday in Athens.

Staff writer Katie Atkinson's review of the album “Beauty Behind the Madness” by alternative R&B act The Weeknd took top honors, while the newspaper's staff collectively earned second place for Best Website and Best Community Service – News.

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 proud of the entire staff at The Cluster. Without the hard work from everyone, we wouldn't be able to publish our content, and we wouldn't be an award-winning newspaper,” said editor-in-chief Conner Wood. “Our squad at The Cluster should be proud of the awards we came away with. Reporting news for the Mercer community is a rewarding on-campus job, but to win an award recognizing our service, well, it's a great moment.”

Managing editor Nicholas Wooten won second place in the Best Sports Story category for his feature on the club cricket team, as well as third place in Best Feature Story for his profile of the owner of Bowfresh Bowties custom bowtie shop.

News editor Sarah Pounds won second place in the Best News Article – Objective Reporting category for her story on Mercer's 2015 Breakthroughs in Engagement, Arts and Research (BEAR) Day.

Sports editor Justin Baxley won third place in the Best Sports Story category for his feature on club soccer.

The luncheon was held at The Classic Center as part of the two-day Georgia Press Institute, which is organized annually by the Georgia Press Association to provide training sessions for professional and collegiate journalists.

Named for a book of songs penned by University founder Jesse Mercer, The Cluster has been published as a bimonthly newspaper since 1920. It currently has a print circulation of 1,300 and is distributed freely throughout Mercer's campus, Mercer Village and downtown Macon. Debbie Blankenship, newsroom coordinator at the Center for Collaborative Journalism, serves as the newspaper's adviser.

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