The Cluster Wins Nine Awards in Georgia College Press Association Better Newspaper Contest


MACON – Mercer University’s student newspaper, The Cluster, won nine awards, including one first-place prize, at this year’s virtual Georgia College Press Association Better Newspaper Contest, held Feb. 19.

The Cluster competes in a division that 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.

“Winning journalism awards in a division that includes much larger student newspapers is always a major accomplishment, but the fact that we kept that momentum going during a period of collective national trauma speaks to the dedication, drive and talent of The Cluster’s staff,” said Editor-in-Chief Emily Rose Thorne. “Our contributors have covered social justice movements, political turmoil, a public health crisis, mental health challenges and more while also balancing academic, social and personal obligations – and keeping in mind that journalism is often thankless work. I couldn’t be prouder of their adaptability. I’m especially impressed by the underclassmen who bring so much energy to The Cluster’s staff and represent our team so beautifully on campus and statewide.”

Thorne, a senior, won first place in the Best News Article – Objective category for reporting on bullying that bisexual students face at Mercer and other Georgia universities.

Managing Editor Mary Helene Hall, a sophomore, won three awards, including second place in Best Photo – Editorial/Feature for a cover image of the Jesse Mercer statue on campus wearing a face mask; third place in Best Photo – Sports for a photo of the Mercer men’s basketball team in action against the Samford Bulldogs; and third place in Best News Article – Objective for coverage of LGBTQIA+ professors at Mercer.

Lifestyle and Opinion Editor Chance Allen, a junior, won second place in Best Photo – News for an image of Joe Biden posing with a student during the 2020 Iowa caucuses.

Sophomores Kaitlyn Fowler and Lars Lonnroth won second place in Best News Article – Investigative for reporting on the financial impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Mercer.

Lead Lifestyle and Opinion Writer Natalie Yeager, a junior, won third place in Best Feature Story for an article about Mercer professors’ romantic relationships.

Layout Editor and Social Media Co-Manager Jen Jones, a junior, won third place in Best Photo – Sports for an image from this year’s Homecoming football game.

Sports Editor Micah Johnston, a junior, won third place in Best Sports Article.

In addition to Thorne, Hall, Allen, Johnston and Jones, The Cluster’s staff includes Digital Editor Ian Henshaw, News Editor Nadia Pressley, Arts and Culture Editor Ivy Marie Clarke, Photography Editor Serena Golden, Advertising Manager Zaira Khan, Social Media Co-Manager Samantha Homcy, Layout Designer Savannah Duringer and 10 staff writers.

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

The Cluster’s next print editions will hit newsstands on Mercer’s campus and throughout the Macon community March 11 and April 15.