The Cluster Wins 10 Awards at Annual Georgia College Press Association Competition

Cluster 2019

MACON – Mercer University’s student newspaper, The Cluster, won 10 awards, including one first-place prize, at the annual Georgia College Press Association Better Newspaper Contest held Feb. 15 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 incredibly proud of our staff members who work hard to make sure the paper serves and informs our student body,” said editor-in-chief Katie Atkinson. “Even though we don’t do this work for the awards, it’s great to be recognized from time to time.”

Freshman Mitch Robinson won first place in the Best Photo – Sports category for an image he captured of senior football player Stephen Houzah during Mercer’s Sept. 8 game against Jacksonville.

Additionally, senior Thais Ackerman won third place in Best Photograph – News for an image taken at QuadWorks’ election night watch party in November, and layout editor Marianna Baccallao won third place in Best Photograph Essay for a photo story on QuadWorks’ 2018 BearStock After Dark concert.

As a staff, The Cluster was recognized with two second-place awards for Most Improved and Best Campus Community Service – Editorial. The newspaper also received five third-place awards for Best Website, Best Layout and Design, Best Objective Reporting, General Photography Excellence and General Excellence.

In addition to Atkinson, Robinson and Bacallao, this year’s staff includes managing editor Jayla Moody, online editor Summer Perritt, arts and entertainment editor Elizabeth Tammi, news editor Emily Rose Thorne, sports editor Christian Hartley, opinions and lifestyle editor Laurel Huster, copy editor Adelia Henderson, advertising manager Rylee Kirk, photography editor Addison Robinson, layout designers Devyn Mode and Caitlyn Patton, design editor Madison Allen and lead writers Aliyah Dorsey and Connor Cable.

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

Debbie Blankenship, director of the Center for Collaborative Journalism, serves as the newspaper’s adviser.