Harman Patil (Editor)

The Mercer Cluster

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Covid-19
Type  Student newspaper
Founded  1920
Website  mercercluster.com
Format  Broadsheet
Circulation  1,500
The Mercer Cluster
Headquarters  1400 Coleman Avenue Macon, GA, 31207 United States

The Mercer Cluster is the official student newspaper and news site of Mercer University, published in print every other Thursday and online seven days a week during the school year. While production and distribution of The Cluster's print edition is subsidized by Mercer's administration, the paper retains full editorial autonomy as a student publication under the University's bylaws, and receives no monetary subsidies for its digital products. Its staff is composed entirely of students, with the exception of a faculty advisor who serves in a consulting role.

Contents

Origins

Students started publishing The Cluster in 1920. The paper received its name from a book of hymns penned by Mercer University founder and prominent Baptist minister Jesse Mercer in 1810, entitled "Cluster of Spiritual Songs." Former Cluster contributors include longtime Atlanta publisher Jack Tarver, former U.S. attorney general Griffin B. Bell, attorney and author Robert Steed, novelist and physician Ferrol Sams and Atlanta Journal-Constitution editor J. Reginald Murphy. For most of its history, The Cluster has been the only newspaper published by students of Mercer University. In 1971, a group of students began publishing "Mercer Today" as an alternative to The Cluster, but the operation folded in 1977.

Controversies

In October 2005, The Cluster ran an opinions piece and full-page advertisement in support of a pro-LGBT student organization's first annual "Coming Out Day". News of the event sparked a month-long dispute between University president R. Kirby Godsey and the Georgia Baptist Convention, eventually leading the religious group to sever its 170-year-old ties and multi-million dollar endowment to the University out of a concern that Mercer had, as a report by CNN put it, become "more liberal than its Southern Baptist roots" Since the split, Mercer has chosen to be no longer formally religiously affiliated.

Present-day operations

In 2011, The Cluster launched its online edition in an effort to broaden its reach to students and the surrounding community, appointing its first digital editor, Carl V. Lewis. In fall of 2011, the paper also added a new "Local" section in an additional push to broaden its geographic reach to the increasingly gentrified neighborhoods that compose the surrounding College Hill Corridor area.

Despite its growing focus on its digital operations, The Cluster maintains an estimated print circulation of around 1,500 copies, which are distributed for free throughout the University's main campus as well as downtown Macon businesses, as well as an estimated 37,000 unique visitors online each month.

In 2014, the Digital Library of Georgia, in coordination with Mercer's Tarver Library, took on an ambitious multi-year project to digitize every printed issue of The Cluster since its founding. As of July 2015, all issues of the newspapers from 1920 to 1970 are available for searching and viewing at http://mercercluster.galileo.usg.edu.

In 2014, The Cluster's newsroom operations moved into the newly-constructed Center for Collaborative Journalism.

References

The Mercer Cluster Wikipedia


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