Brown Noser gets a whiff of success

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

When the editors of the Brown Noser were turned down by the Undergraduate Council of Students for Category III status early last month, they appealed the decision, and arrived at UCS’s general body meeting last Wednesday night fully prepared to fight their case. Decked out in face and body paint, Noser members – including the editors and at least a dozen others – rallied around a sign: “Don’t be a Poser. Free The Noser.”

“There was a bit of a misunderstanding,” co-editor in chief Mitch Moranis ’10 said of the initial rejection, which was based on the grounds that the satirical newspaper did not have a demonstrated need for funding.

Not so this time, as Noser editors Moranis and Steve Daniels ’10 successfully lobbied the council to reconsider their status. The motion passed unanimously, and the parade exited Petteruti Lounge in celebration.

For Moranis and Daniels, the financial help comes as a relief, though they said they will consider the new money as mostly “backup.” As part of brokering their deal for funding from the University, Moranis and Daniels admitted they – and their families – had absorbed the roughly $500 of debt incurred in printing the first issue.

“Our short-term goal is just to break even on our own,” Daniels said.

For the two editors, the Noser’s take-off has been unexpected. The paper, which runs “fake news” in the style of the Onion, has developed rapidly in just a few months, putting out three issues and starting a Web site,, that already features Brown Noser TV video “reports.” Daniels and Moranis said the Noser counts almost 50 students as members – almost all of them first-years.

“I really never thought it was going to happen,” said Daniels, who met Moranis, a high school friend of his roommate, during freshman orientation. He said the two discussed starting a humor paper together, but never got around to it as the school year began.

But one boring afternoon in November, Moranis said he gave Daniels a call and suggested they get started. The Noser was born.

“There was a void,” Moranis said, adding that the existing humor publication, the Brown Jug, had a different style – more MAD magazine than the Onion – and “wasn’t exactly what we wanted to do.”

As people signed up to write for the Noser, Daniels said, the editors found many students couldn’t believe there wasn’t already a satirical newspaper at Brown. “People at Brown are so witty, so funny,” he said. “How could something like this not exist?”

When the first issue of the Noser was ready, on the morning of Dec. 1, the paper’s staff were all around campus, personally distributing the unfamiliar rag by hand. The first headline snarkily proclaimed, “Brown Noser to Replace Daily Herald as Campus’s Premier Comedy Newspaper.”

Daniels and Moranis, though, hadn’t counted on actually appearing to have replaced The Herald. But due to a printing error that morning, the day’s issue of The Herald hadn’t yet been delivered.

Because of this mistake, Daniels and Moranis said, Herald editors thought the Noser had stolen the entire run of The Herald to gain an exclusive presence in the dining halls and other locations. But the misunderstanding was quickly resolved, they said.

That wasn’t the only time the Noser has run into conflict with another campus publication. After the first issue was published, Daniels and Moranis said, they got an e-mail from Ian Spector ’09, an editor of the Brown Jug. Spector wanted to discuss the possibility of collaborating, but nothing emerged from a subsequent meeting with the Noser editors.

“After thinking about it,” Spector told The Herald, “we came to the conclusion that we should just do our separate things.”

But Spector didn’t deny that he was somewhat annoyed that Daniels and Moranis had started another humor publication. “I don’t think anyone in our position would be ‘Yeah, totally cool with it’ at first,” Spector said, though he added that the relationship between the Jug and the Noser is “more of a complementary situation than a competitive one.”

Since their first issue, the Noser – which still calls Daniels’ Champlin Hall dormitory home – has published two more issues and has added more staff. For the most recent issue, Daniels and two advertising staff sold space in the paper to many Thayer Street businesses – perhaps a step up from the second issue, when Moranis’s grandmother paid for space urging other Brown grandmothers to support the Noser.

Though the Noser has a few upperclassmen, the organization is almost entirely run by first-years.

“I think seniors and juniors have already established what they’re doing here,” Moranis said.

But, Daniels said, “It’s great to have all freshmen, because they’re going to be with us for the next four years.”

In fact, despite their reputation for mocking just about everything at Brown, Daniels and Moranis have only one problem.

“Our only beef is with the BDH,” Moranis said. “You’re going down.”

“You can quote me on that,” he added.