The Cluster is the leading news source for Mercer University and surrounding communities in Macon and Middle Georgia. The student-run newspaper is named after a book of songs penned by university founder Jesse Mercer in 1810.
The Cluster has been physically published since 1920. While The Cluster is subsidized by Mercer’s Board of Appropriations, it retains strict editorial autonomy as a student publication under the University’s bylaws.
The Cluster launched its online operations in 2011 in an effort to reach more students as well as to reach those in the Macon-Bibb County community who do not have easy access to the locations where the print edition is circulated. That year, The Cluster also expanded its scope with the addition of a “Local” section, aimed at broadening the newspaper’s geographic reach to the increasingly gentrified neighborhoods that compose the surrounding College Hill Corridor area.
In addition to its digital focus, The Cluster maintains a monthly print circulation while Mercer classes are in session in the fall and spring semesters. Print papers are distributed for free throughout the university campus as well as several local businesses.
In 2014, the Digital Library of Georgia and Mercer’s Tarver Library, digitized every printed issue of The Cluster from 1920-1970. All issues of the archive are available online at http://mercercluster.galileo.usg.edu.
The newspaper has won numerous student journalism awards over the years from the Georgia College Press Association. Its former writers include notables such as longtime publisher Jack Tarver, attorney and author Robert Steed, former U.S. Attorney General Griffin B. Bell and Atlanta Journal-Constitution editor J. Reginald “Reg” Murphy
More recently, former editors have gone on to lead robust journalism careers. Nick Wooten ‘17 is the Southern Trends and Culture reporter for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, Jenna Eason ‘18 is a Peyton Anderson Fellow at The Macon Telegraph, Katie Atkinson ‘19 is a Podcast Producer at NASA and Marianna Bacallao ‘20 is a Fellowship Host/Producer at NPR.
Today, The Cluster continues to provide community and campus news to Mercer University and beyond.
At The Cluster, it is our goal to:
Report with objectivity. Our readers have trust in our reporting, and we do not take that for granted. We will aim to report with integrity to the best of our ability at all times. Plagiarism or misquoting is not acceptable.
Students will avoid reporting on the activities or organizations they are involved with on and off-campus.
Members of the Student Government Association at Mercer will not be allowed to be employed by The Cluster unless they write exclusively for the Opinion section. SGA members may contribute as writers on stories unrelated to Mercer University.
Hold ourselves accountable. Sometimes we will miss the mark in our reporting. When we make mistakes, we will correct them as soon as possible and prominently note the changes made when necessary.
Strive for inclusivity. Both Mercer University and Macon-Bibb county are diverse communities that deserve diverse reporting. Staff members will seek stories that appropriately represent our communities.
To have inclusive reporting, it is necessary to employ a diverse staff. The Cluster will aim to recruit students that are representative of the Mercer community.
Minimize harm in the communities in which we report. As journalists, it is our goal to improve our communities, not hurt them. Information that could harm the general population of Mercer University will be reported appropriately.
Sources will be treated with respect and granted protection when necessary.
Grow as student journalists. Each and every one of our staff members at The Cluster is a student of Mercer University, and we are here to learn. We acknowledge that we will not be perfect, but that every opportunity for reporting is an opportunity to strengthen our skills as a journalist and member of the community.
The Cluster’s comments section is meant to be a place for respectful conversation and reflection on issues and events affecting students at Mercer University. Comments are moderated by the student staff of The Cluster to ensure that those made visible on the website reflect these standards.
Harassment, hate, spam and personal attacks on staff members will not be approved. This does not mean
critical comments will be rejected. We welcome diverse perspectives on our reporting and on students’ experiences at Mercer University.
Comments will not be approved unless a valid name and email address are submitted. Please also note that our
comment moderation system logs IP addresses associated with every comment submitted.
The Cluster is committed to providing our readers with accurate and up-to-date information. We recognize mistakes can happen, but we will do our best to correct them as quickly as possible. If you spot a factual error, please let us know. We will correct the error online and make a notation that the story has been updated. If an error appears in a print article, we will run a correction in the next print edition. Please reach out to a member of our staff on the Contact Us page.
Submissions and Jobs
The Cluster represents the voices of current students at Mercer University. We welcome your submissions, pitches and queries as long as they follow our guidelines. You may learn more about becoming a part of The Cluster here.
Job postings, when available, will be posted on our website.