MACON – Mercer University’s student newspaper, The Cluster, won 11 awards, including five first-place prizes, in this year’s Georgia College Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.

The Cluster competes in Division A, which includes the state’s largest college newspapers, including the University of Georgia’s Red & Black, Georgia Institute of Technology’s Technique and Georgia State University’s The Signal.

“Leading The Cluster this year has been such a wonderful and enriching experience. The staff and I do our best to put out a high-quality product,” said Editor-in-Chief Mary Helene Hall. “It’s really affirming to see that professional journalists approve of our work, especially when we’re put up against some phenomenal newspapers across the state with much larger staffs.”

Hall, Managing Editor Micah Johnston and reporter Dean Yusuf each won first-place awards, and the newspaper’s staff collectively took first place for Best Newspaper Website and Best Campus Community Service.

Hall’s top prize came in the category of Best News Article Based on Investigative Reporting for “Lin Wood’s Mercer legacy.”

Johnson placed first in the Best Sports Story category for his story, “Lightning strikes twice for Bears against Bama despite 48-14 defeat,” recapping the Mercer football team’s performance against top-ranked Alabama.

Yusuf took top honors in Best News Article Based on Objective Reporting for “Mercer students face challenges accessing textbooks.”

Reporter Mallory Morgan received a second-place award in Best Review, while Arts and Culture Editor Ivy Marie Clarke, Johnston and Yusuf each took third-place awards in Best Entertainment Story, Best Editorial or Editorial Series and Best Feature Story, respectively.

Additionally, The Cluster staff placed third in General Excellence, as well as Layout and Design Excellence.

In addition to Hall, Johnston and Clarke, The Cluster’s staff includes Campus News Editor Samantha Homcy, State and Local News Editor Henry Keating, Opinion Editor Ivia Rollins, Sports Editor Keith Holmes Jr., Multimedia Editor Chance Allen, Layout Editors Jacqueline Lamothe and Savannah Duringer, Layout Editor/Social Media Manager Jen Jones and Advertising Manager Michael Mallard. Tanya Ott-Fulmore serves as the newspaper’s adviser.

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