JULY 27, 2009 4:17AM

Journalism saved! By Nigerian scammers

Rate: 3 Flag
By King Kaufman: I have seen the Future of Journalism and its name is Nigerian e-mail scam.

Like a fool, I'd been thinking the Future of Journalism was extortion. I'd been impressed by the Newport, R.I., Daily News' strategy of charging $245 a year for home delivery and online access, or $345 a year just for the online version. "You’ve got a real nice house there," the paper said to its subscribers. "We'd hate to see it littered up with paper every day. Catch our drift?"

But no. That's old-media-think. I should have realized the future would be wired, global and multiplatform. I should have known the future would arrive in my in box.

"I represent the Nacotel Group, owners of the proposed Nacotel Media Publishers," wrote Prince Ikechukwu Johnson Ibeka. "We desire to float a fast-selling, but reliable newspaper bouquet to be known as Nacotel International [NI], Nacotel Times International, and Nacotel International Magazine."

I love the idea of a newspaper bouquet. It really sounds like something I can trust. Would you talk about a blog bouquet? I think not.

But wait. Just when I was ready to turn over my account numbers and become a partner in an exciting new newspaper bouquet, the prince wrote again.

"I write in my capacity as the Executive President/Chairman/CEO of the Nacotel Group, Owners of the proposed Nacotel Television International[NTI]," the prince's letter said. "The Board, Management & staff, have concluded plans to float an independent & private television station in South-Africa and another in Nigeria, Africa's two largest eceonomies."

Aha. Not newspapers. Television. This guy moves fast. You have to be agile in the new journalism economy. He went on:

"We consequently see you as the mechanism & that vehicle through which our plans to float this modern Television house, the flag-ship of modern day entertainment that would provide programmes in sports, politics, music, the arts, social commentaries & documentaries and all the programmes associated with modern-day televisio station & house in the 21st centurywould become reality."

I admit I might have been hanging around in the wrong crowd lately, but that's the smartest thing I've read about journalism in a long time.

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This isn't the first time the Nigerian email entrepreneurs have revitalized an industry. Just look what they did for short fiction:

http://dir.salon.com/story/people/feature/2001/08/07/419scams/index.html
Does Nigeria have any industry other than spam?
Don't underestimate Nigerian SPAM. Apparently it's enabled Nigeria to become the 2nd biggest economy in Africa. jr
I spent 5 years living and working in Nigeria in the 1990's ... in Lagos, the slang term for something like this is a "four-one-nine" ... named after section 419 of the Nigerian Criminal Code that discusses telephone and electronic fraud. For the record, after 5 years of watching NTA (Nigerian Television Authority) I think another TV choice there is a VERY good idea.