Over the past few years, the champagne-soaked parties at the apartment of The Washington Post’s Keith Richburg became the stuff of local legend among reporters. When Friday nights rolled around in D.C., and no one had plans, “Everyone knew something would be happening at Keith’s,” said Post reporter Nancy Trejos.
Now Mr. Richburg is bringing his fetes to Manhattan, where he’s taken up residence in a 23rd Street condo. On December 3, the 49-year-old former foreign editor of The Post took over as the paper’s New York bureau chief.
Mr. Richburg has never lived full time in Manhattan, but it seems that’s just about the only place he hasn’t: During his 29-year career at The Post, he’s had stints in Hong Kong, Manila, Paris, Honolulu, Zaire and Nairobi, to name a few. And in those places, he’s gotten to know a slew of high-profile journalists who could soon be dropping by his Chelsea apartment. There are Marcus Brauchli and Gordon Crovitz, the managing editor and the publisher, respectively, of The Wall Street Journal, who are old friends from Hong Kong; there’s Rick Berke, the assistant managing editor of The New York Times, who Mr. Richburg worked with on the University of Michigan’s campus paper; and there’s Rick Lyman, an arts editor at The Times who’s a friend from Africa.
Mr. Lyman, for one, remembered a party thrown by Mr. Richburg in Nairobi. “You could just call him up to see what he was doing and he’d say, ‘I might have some people over,’” said Mr. Lyman. “You’d go there and there would be 30 people there. He’s good value.”
And while in Hong Kong, Mr. Richburg played host to the “Jennifer Lee dinner.” “I knew four women named Jennifer Lee, and none of them knew each other,” Mr. Richburg told Off the Record. “It was one of the great times.” (None of these women, by the way, was Times reporter Jennifer 8. Lee, whom Mr. Richburg did not know.)
Of course, all those plum foreign assignments would never have come without a record of achievement. During his career, Mr. Richburg has won two George Polk awards and two National Association of Black Journalists awards. And his fellow reporters seem to admire his work: Mr. Lyman remembers being part of a group of journalists, including Mr. Richburg, huddled in a hotel in Somalia during the 1990’s, while the U.S. military was hunting for warlord Osman Ali Atto.
“We were all sitting around the hotel, and Keith knew Osman Ali Atto lived three blocks away, so he got around and drove to the house and sat in his front yard,” Mr. Lyman said. “He got the interview with him. And it didn’t appear the U.S. was looking that hard: Osman Ali Atto was sitting in his front yard.”
Mr. Richburg said he’ll bring those same instincts to New York. “It’s one of the best jobs at The Post,” he said. “You can live in New York, but you don’t have to get into the thick of things and don’t have to beat the local papers on things. We have the luxury of stepping back and trolling around for real gems that will make it on the front page.”
As for the parties, there should be a good one this spring. “We’ll have reason to celebrate in May,” he said. “I’ll have my 50th birthday, and it’ll be my 30th anniversary at The Post.”
Better put the Moët & Chandon on ice.
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