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Policy

‘30’: Remembering ‘Tack’ Nail

4/04/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Washington — Dawson “Tack” Nail, 82,
the veteran D.C. media reporter who died
from injuries suffered in a fall at his home
March 25, had a disarmingly folksy delivery
and courtly manner that endeared him to the
industry bigwigs he covered, drawing stories
out of them with the casual opening, “I understand
that …”

What the industry understood last week,
as reminiscences poured in, was that it had
lost a top-notch reporter, a gentle man, and
a fixture on the D.C. media-journalism
landscape, with his shock of white hair
and cat-that-got-the-scoop grin.

Rail-thin and with a countenance that
seemed equal parts Gabby Hayes and Abraham
Lincoln (with a touch of Uncle Sam),
Nail first plied his trade as a reporter for
Broadcasting (now Broadcasting & Cable)
back in the ’50s and ’60s before becoming
one of the magazine’s toughest competitors at
Communications Daily. While his title at that
publication was eventually executive editor,
he was first, foremost and always a reporter.

He was remembered last week as a journalist
who got the story, often over lunch and
drinks, and worked hard to get it right, as well
as a mentor to reporters and someone who
could write a tough story and be welcomed
into the office of his subject afterwards.

“Tack was an institution in the FCC world,”
commissioner Michael Copps said. “He knew
the players, the right sources and the issues,
and he understood how things got done.
He was also totally straightforward and personable.
He was one of a special breed of alltoo-
rare boots-on-the-ground journalists.”

September