The Cluster Earns Eight Awards at Annual Georgia College Press Association Luncheon


MACON – A feature story on Capricorn Records and a review of the movie “Boyhood” earned Mercer University's independent student newspaper, The Cluster, a pair of top prizes at the Georgia College Press Association Awards Luncheon last Saturday in Athens.

Overall, The Cluster won eight awards 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 so proud of the staff of The Cluster, and thankful for all its hard work this year. These awards are a testament to the staff's dedication to serving the Mercer community,” said Editor-in-Chief Emily Farlow. “Doing so well against schools with larger newspaper staffs shows what a talented group of students we have. Working with the writers, photographers and editors this year to continually improve has been great, and I'm glad to see everyone's hard work pay off.”

Staff writer Nick Wooten won first place in the Best Feature Story category for his piece, titled “The Voices at 535 Cotton Avenue: Capricorn Records' Business Office condemned, near destruction.”

Staff writer Brett Felty won first place in the Best Review category for his piece on Richard Linklater's coming-of-age drama “Boyhood,” which was released last July.

Staff photographer Jenna Eason won second place in the Best Photo category for an image taken during last year's Ocmulgee Indian Celebration.

Former staff photographer Patrick Hobbs won second place in the Best Photo Essay category for a collection of images taken during the Mercer men's basketball team's run through the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

The newspaper staff collectively won four awards, including second place for Best Website, third place for General Excellence, third place for Best Campus Community Service – Sports and third place for Best Campus Community Service – Features.

Farlow, Managing Editor Conner Wood, Opinions Editor Anna Mae Kersey, Digital Editor Marin Guta, Copy Editor Taelor Rye, Wooten and Hobbs were in attendance to accept the awards on behalf of The Cluster.

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.