By CRAIG MEDRED
On the outside, all looks fine for Alaska’s largest news organization. The website ADN.com keeps on keeping on. The commenters still gravitate there en masse to call each other names. The Alaska Dispatch News newspapers still plop down in thousands of Anchorage driveways every morning, and some employees tell their friends that all will be good from here on out thanks to the Binkley family of Fairbanks.
But behind the scenes, the story of the collapse of Alice Rogoff’s would-be media empire just keeps getting stranger and stranger.
As 9-11 approaches – the official date on which the Binkley family from Fairbanks and/or others are to submit their offers to buy the Dispatch News out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a flurry of filings in federal Bankruptcy Court paint an ever crazier picture of this saga:
- The court trustee has suggested the company of which Rogoff is now the owner-in-name only is such a train wreck that it might not be salvageable via a Chapter 11 reorganization and should be moved into a Chapter 7 liquidation.
- Rogoff, who bought the newspaper and website from The McClatchy Company of California for $34 million about three years ago, has filed with the court as a creditor claiming that Alaska Dispatch News LLC, the limited liability corporation she set up to run the newspaper, owes her $8 million. For what isn’t clear.
- Editor David Hulen, Rogoff’s right-hand man, appears to have lived up to what he once described as his greatest skill: “survivor.” Bankruptcy records reveal that he cut a deal that requires anyone buying the company pick up his contract. Other news employees are unlikley to make out nearly as well.
- And the Dispatch News’ summary of assets for the bankruptcy court defines what might be its most valuable product at the moment – ADN.com, the elephant in the jungle of Alaska news – as worth nothing.