Vicky Collins Online

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The Chinese Scam I Almost Fell For

It’s amazing the lengths people will go to to rip others off.  I recently was contacted by a Mr. Dehua from Henan Yu Xin International Co. Ltd. in Zhengzhou, China.  He emailed to say that his company was making a 20 episode series of 25 minute documentaries in HD for television broadcast.  The intention was to enlighten the Chinese audience about America’s history, economy, culture and tourism.  At first I was a bit skeptical.  How did he find me?  Was it because I did a documentary length piece on Chinese influence in the Caribbean for Dan Rather Reports?  Was it because I spent three months in Beijing during the 2008 Olympics?  Did I impress someone along the way who referred me?  I emailed him back.  He followed up with the project information.  It was in detail and he clearly understood the logistics of production.  He also informed me that they would pay $50,000 to $60,000 US per episode.  The project was a dream come true with a budget that would allow us to produce excellent television.  It kept me up at night thinking of ideas that I would bring to the Chinese and people I would collaborate with.  I worked out a production schedule and sent him off my ideas.  He said “I am so happy that we have a so good beginning.”  Today as I was looking for more information I came across this warning from a production company in Munich, Germany.

Thanks to the internet and the experience of the production company in Munich I was saved from going any further down this scheming road.  I am now posting this as a cautionary tale to warn fellow producers and production companies.  The scam which first swept through Germany and Italy and other European countries has now reached American shores.  I guess if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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New BeadforLife Party Video

We have just completed BeadforLife’s new party video. If you are not familiar with BeadforLife and the wonderful work this NGO does for women in Uganda go to BeadforLife is an income generating project which creates a circle of connection and compassion between women around the globe and women in Uganda who are trying to lift their families out of extreme poverty. Women in the slums of Kampala roll beads out of recycled paper and women in North America and Europe sell them. The money is returned to Uganda to help women care for their families, provide food, shelter, health care and education. BeadforLife has also launched an initiative in war torn Northern Uganda where women gather shea nuts for shea butter which is used in cosmetics. BeadforLife also offers a curriculum for middle and high school students to raise awareness and get them engaged in the fight to end extreme poverty.

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BBC: The Joy of Stats

What a clever way to make complicated and essential statistics user friendly. The BBC hit it out of the park with this program. For anyone interested in global poverty and the inequities between the haves and the have nots, Hans Rosling’s demonstration is must see TV.

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War and Remembrance 5

A couple of years ago I read a book called “The Faith Club” where three women got together regularly to talk about faith. They were a Christian, a Muslim and a Jew. The experience and friendship was transformative as they worked through their differences and came to realize their similarities. I am having a dialogue with a man named Ben Coker, Jr. in South Carolina who responded to a blog I wrote on Veterans Day. We are politically miles apart but we are finding common ground and having an inspired conversation. It continues here.

Vicky, please call me by my first name. I am also enjoying this dialogue with you. I fully agree with your assessment about our not being able to run to every segment of the world. I vividly remember Mogadishu. That was an absolute fiasco. We went over there for humanitarian reasons. There was no functioning government to control the population. Reagan sent the military as a part of the contingency to provide this assistance. The radicals have taken over that area. Of course we exited that area in disarray. We should have never been there.

How do we differentiate between the areas we should try to help and those we should not. I agree with you about our being able to win the friendship through creating conditions that enrich the lives of the people and promoting quality of life. Do you remember the Marshall Plan that was utilized to rebuild Europe in an effort to develop and cultivate friendship and to improve the lives of the people as well as international commerce? This was a very successful operation. However, it was successful because the Allied Armies and the Nazis destroyed all the infrastructure throughout Europe. The Allied Armies had beaten the adversaries into submission. They had nothing left. The military leaders were allowed to conduct a very aggressive battle plan that left them helpless. The adversaries could not resist the USA’s and other’s plan to resuscitate the economy of the world. The enabled the nations to develop a resurgent economy conducive for ALL citizens.

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Ode to Ode Magazine

I got a call from a lawyer the other day. “How are you?” I said. “Better than you will be,” she replied. Turns out she was calling on behalf of Ode Magazine to tell me they could not afford to pay their bills and I would not be getting compensated for my contribution to their magazine. They wanted to be up front with me and with everyone else who was beating down their doors to get paid for their work.  I wrote an article on touring Brazil’s favelas for their spring travel issue. It was the first time I’d written an article for a magazine and I was very proud.  They asked for 1500 words and said they’d pay fifty cents a word.  The story ended up being 900 words but they’d pay me $750 anyway.  They warned me it would take a long time to get paid.  Eight months later I was starting to feel my story would not have a happy ending.

I’d like to say I’m angry or even disappointed by Ode’s failure to follow through but more than anything I’m sad.  This was a really good publication and the editors had wonderful intentions to create a smart magazine for “intelligent optimists.”  They were responsive and seemed to work very hard from their offices in the Bay Area and the Netherlands.  But the economy is killing Ode Magazine just as it’s ushering in the demise of so many publications.  Ode can’t even afford to file for Chapter 11 so it can reorganize.  Short of a funding miracle, Ode Magazine will most likely die a quiet death.  The magazine is trying to raise $50,000 in the next ten days to stay afloat. 

By the end of the year we’ll have written the obituaries of Metropolitan Home, Fortune Small Business, and Conde Nast’s Gourmet, Cookie, Modern Bride and Elegant Bride.  Other magazines bit the dust before them.  They were victims of a declining advertising market where ad sales, according to one report, were down almost 12% since 2008, while the cost of printing continues to skyrocket.  Newspapers are taking it on the chin even worse than magazines as we’ve seen with the deaths of the Rocky Mountain News, the Seattle Post Intelligencer, even the Christian Science Monitor.

More established publications have been able to downsize, outsource and cut costs but it seems Ode Magazine, even with its good intentions, might not be able to outrun the bad economy.  There are many others besides myself who are not getting paid for their work.  For me, it is the very first time in my career.  The money would have been nice but at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter that much.  What matters is that a really good magazine is running out of time and another voice will be silenced.

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