RESPONSE IS MORE ABOUT FEELINGS THAN FACTS
Attorneys for Alice Rogoff, owner and publisher of the Alaska Dispatch News, issued the following statement regarding the lawsuit filed against her by her former business partner, Tony Hopfinger, who says he is owed the better part of $1 million in a buyout deal that has clearly gone sideways:
On June 15, 2016, Tony Hopfinger, former executive editor and president of the Alaska Dispatch News, filed suit against Alice Rogoff and Alaska Dispatch Publishing, LLC, a now-defunct online news outlet. Hopfinger’s litigation, which requests over a $1 million in damages, is the unfortunate conclusion to a former business relationship in which Rogoff, through substantial financial assistance, supported and nurtured Hopfinger’s journalistic aspirations and catapulted him into control as editor at the Alaska Dispatch News, Alaska’s most widely-read and recognized news source.
Rogoff’s former business interests with Hopfinger began in 2009 when Rogoff became the 90 percent owner of Alaska Dispatch Publishing, the website created and initially owned by Hopfinger and his ex-wife, Amanda Coyne. In their own words, Rogoff’s involvement gave Coyne and Hopfinger “an amazing opportunity to hire a staff of experienced reporters and editors and to tell that story of Alaska in a way that’s been sorely missing here for a long time.” Shortly thereafter, and after considerable capital contributions made by Rogoff, the site began to receive accolades and national attention for the unique stories it covered, which were typically not covered by the larger Anchorage Daily News.
In early 2014, Rogoff began to make financial and legal arrangements to purchase the Anchorage Daily News with the intent of merging the two news operations into one, in order to expand the ability to connect readers with important coverage of Alaska and the Arctic. At the time, Rogoff expected that Hopfinger would act as the president and executive editor of the paper, appreciating their previous shared success bringing undercovered stories and news to the public. In order to ensure that Hopfinger was truly committed to the paper, Rogoff tentatively and conditionally agreed to provide him with compensation contingent on Hopfinger’s willingness to undertake broad responsibilities for at least ten years and to dedicate himself to the success of the paper much in the same way he had dedicated himself to the success of his blog. Unfortunately, Hopfinger did not live up to his promises and has remarried and permanently relocated to Chicago with no apparent plans to return or to provide support to the Alaska Dispatch News.
Without Rogoff’s significant financial support, neither Hopfinger nor his blog would have achieved success. A 2011 book written by Hopfinger and Coyne recognizes the assistance Rogoff provided to them by saying: “Nobody in our professional careers has believed in us like Alice Rogoff . . . We will forever be grateful for her trust, encouragement, optimism and friendship, as well as her love for Alaska.” With the filing of this lawsuit, Hopfinger appears to have abandoned this sentiment, which is a far cry from the allegations and claims in the complaint Hopfinger filed yesterday. Nonetheless, while Rogoff and Hopfinger have been unable to come to a resolution short of litigation, Rogoff remains dedicated to exploring Alaska’s rich narrative in order to support the journalistic endeavors of the excellent reporters at the Alaska Dispatch News, and this lawsuit will have no effect on her continued devotion to do so.
ROGOFF TAKES A STAB AT TRANSPARENCY
Here’s how the Alaska Dispatch awkwardly covered this story.
Many readers noticed that the controversial comment section of the ADN, managed and mediated most recently by Portland-based Civil Comments company, has been disabled for the story on publisher Rogoff and her estranged editor Hopfinger.
(Those who wish to comment on the Dispatch story may do so on this story, whose comments are mediated by MustReadAlaska’s Suzanne Downing.)