On the night before the Nassau Weekly’s first ever issue in ‘79, Nass members were tasked with producing a completed edition from “a rented typesetting machine that would spit out columns of copy ready to be pasted onto dummy pages.” Between squeezing a finished copy into their only computer and meticulously typing without error into the machine, all they needed was an urgency for exactitude and, though seemingly contrary to their mission of precision, some alcohol. But despite their attempt, when our founders compiled the copy into the monster instrument, they fell upon any journalist’s nightmare: they were short a piece. As “the clock ticked toward deadline and the recalcitrant machine did its best to resist [their] attempts at journalism,” Marc Fisher ‘80 took responsibility to write a story from scratch; to beat the clock, he was privileged “no revisions, no editing, no mistakes.”


This was over four decades ago. In the Nass’s early years, the now Nass Trustee Marc Fisher played a major role in nurturing the paper from idea to conception. Along “with Steve Reiss ‘79 and a few other members of the University Press Club, [they first] started Nassau’s predecessor, a one-issue pilot called Friday that appeared in the spring of 1979. The prototype was designed to do the things that the Prince did not in that era: In-depth features, arts coverage, sports features, and the sort of longform (though that term didn’t yet exist) reporting that we might today call literary nonfiction. The idea was to produce one issue to show the campus what we were aiming for, then to get going for real the next fall.” Though a one-issue experiment, Friday excited a new desire among the Nass founders: an age of journalism on campus that investigated topics that had since been glossed over. The world and very notion of journalism was changing; Marc Fisher and his peers were trying to catch up.


After learning from Friday’s financial faults, “[Marc] recruited a publisher (Bob Faggen ’82), a couple of business managers (David Bookbinder and Andrew Carnegie Rose), and a bunch of Press Club writers, as well as some other writers from all around campus, and off [they] went, starting out in a few rooms we got the university to give us way up in Holder Tower.” In this new batch of mastheads, “[Mark] became the first editor in chief of the rechristened Nassau Weekly.”


Though we no longer have to copy onto a typesetting machine and have since been moved to the basement of Bloomberg Hall, the Nass has maintained the same spirit which excited Marc Fisher and the other founding members of the Nass: to find a story in the radical, weird, messy, confrontational, and everything in between. In the end of my interaction with Marc, he noted that he is “thrilled to see the current Nass staff’s dedication to print, not only because it warms the heart of an old print nostalgist, but mainly because it demonstrates that a new generation has absorbed the vital and enduring lesson: Print and digital both have their strengths, but we’ve now finally relearned that reading in print implants ideas and literary experiences in the mind, memory and soul in a way that the speedier yet more fleeting medium of bytes cannot.” As I lift my figurative glass with Marc, “Here’s to the next four decades of the Nass in print.”

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