LAGOS _ Just as Nigerians were winding down from New Year’s celebrations; a new newspaper hit newsstands and instantly sparked charged conversations among residents of this seaside metropolis.
In an era of worldwide newspaper cutbacks Lagosians woke up on Sunday January 4 to see Next, an elegant broadsheet chock full of long thoughtful pieces and a glossy magazine, elan, inside.
Next’s lead story was the brazen housing discrimination in Lagos among ethnic lines ‘Igbos Need Not Apply’ was the headline of an investigative piece by its reporters that described how many landlords flouted the law based on ethnic perceptions.
“Maybe this is the one that will finally tell us the truth,” one reader said while perusing the article. Nigeria with its 120 million residents has a long newspaper tradition and many papers but only few inspire confidence.
Next is the brainchild of Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Dele Olojede, who serves as publisher and has worked for several years on the enterprise since leaving Newsday, the New York newspaper where his last stint was as foreign editor.
In a first for an African publication, Next will be delivered simultaneously in Nigeria, the U.S. and U.K. By the end of January, plans are to deliver the paper in newsprint or electronic format to any Nigerian who wants it anywhere in the world.
“You are a Nigerian because Nigeria was born in you not just because you were born in Nigeria,” Olojede told some 300 media and government cognoscenti invited to a robust dinner at the paper’s launch in a hotel ballroom in Victoria Island.
Plans have been made for the paper to be on every flight in and out of the country and news will be delivered in hours and minutes on its website 234Next.com, to mobile devises and anywhere Next editors can find Nigerians.
The paper while taking a broadsheet approach for Sundays, will be a tabloid on weekdays. It will be a “quick fast colorful well designed read” Olojede added.
Both paper and website were designed by Mario Garcia who redesigned the Wall Street Journal, Paris Match and more.ï¿½ Garcia is considered the leading designer of his age and this was his first African project.ï¿½ “I was inspired at every turn in this city were cultures converge,” he said.
Editors from competing papers were thrilled with the new addition saying the jolt would be a wake up call to them to improve staid practices.ï¿½ Next editors however said their first issue would be their worst ever.ï¿½ Next is published by Timbuktu media, which raised the start-up capital. Its Sunday paper cover price is just over $1.