“The Opening Line of My Obit, ‘Bill Keller Who is Not Kristen'”

Keller_3.13.jpgWith heavy praise and a hint of envy for their coverage of the Spitzer story, including tonight’s revelation of ‘Kristen’, NBC’s Meredith Vieira introduced the Times’ big boss saying, “Please join me in welcoming…not Spitzer and not her…the executive editor of the New York Times, Bill Keller.”

Keller joked, “I feel like that’s the opening line of my obit, ‘Bill Keller who is not Kristen.'” And before Keller could continue, Fox News Channel’s Geraldo Rivera shouted, “Unless he was!”

It was that kind of night. Three hundred journalists packed into the Times Center at the paper’s new headquaters for the NLGJA New York benefit. The media boldfacers were all there: NBC’s Matt Lauer, Times M.E., Jill Abramson, Boston Globe publisher Steve Ainsley; People Magazine M.E. Larry Hackett, Logo’s Jason Bellini and Liz Cho & Bill Ritter of WABC.

Speaking to the mixed TV/print crowd, Keller got serious talking about the newspaper industry. “Our business is reeling from technological advances that have siphoned off much of our advertising revenue and have loosened our monopoly on the audience and fractured our readership,” he said, adding, “I believe in my bones that there is a bright, prosperous future for quality journalism.”

Keller talked about his increasingly morose, twice-annual staff updates. “At one session rather than make the staff sit through another ‘bright future’ speech, I just cued an audio guy and played a few bars from my favorite Spamalot song, ‘Not Dead Yet,’ he joked, adding, “Which I gather, now is Sen. Clinton’s campaign theme song.”

Keller closed his ‘reality bites’ speech with this: “I will offer you the two time-honored solutions for the downcast journalist. One is a good story, and the other is alcohol.”

And so we partook in both…

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