Throwback Thursday: When Brian Williams Was Editor of His High School Newspaper

Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library
Williams (far right) with the newspaper staff of Mater Dei High School in 1977 in New Monmouth, N.J. His title was editorial editor.

The anchor, currently on suspension from 'NBC Nightly News' for exaggerating his experiences during the Iraq War in 2003, was editor at Mater Dei's school paper before graduating in 1977.

This story first appeared in the April 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

On Feb. 2, New Jersey prep school Mater Dei announced it would close its doors in June after five decades in existence. One week later, its most famous alumnus, Brian Williams, was facing an equally uncertain future after being handed down a six-month suspension from NBC Nightly News for exaggerating his experiences during the Iraq War in 2003.

Williams, Mater Dei class of '77 ("the last degree I earned," the George Washington University dropout has said), was editor of the school paper, The Seraph, where he covered evaluation exams and scholarship awards, before going on to a professional journalism career that began at a small TV station in Kansas. The $168-a-week salary soon drove him to seek a new position, and after working at WTTG in Washington, he joined NBC News in 1993, ascending to the anchor chair vacated by Tom Brokaw at Nightly News in 2004.

Since his suspension, Williams, 55, has been lying low at his home in Connecticut. But he made his first public appearance March 21 at a fundraising gala for Mater Dei, donating $50,000 to the place he has called "the heart of my existence during my four happy years there" (the school since has reached its goal of raising $1 million to keep its doors open). On what he would tell a younger version of himself, Williams once said: "I would've studied harder, I would've done better — I would've generally handled myself better. But life has a way of deciding things for you." For now, with Lester Holt filling in on Nightly News, it will be Williams' longtime friend Andrew Lack, newly installed as NBC News chairman, who will decide the anchorman's future.

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