Monday, March 21, 2016

Rubenstein's Wife Charts Future of Alaska Dispatch News

Alice Rogoff, the wife of Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein, said her news organization is in "investment mode."  She wrote:

At Alaska Dispatch News – the company – we have a split identity.  Of course, first and foremost, we are a news organization. But we’re also a living, breathing small business (or medium size, really, given our 200-plus employees).

This is an update about the state of our business, and some thoughts about our future.
Rogoff committed to producing a physical newspaper for fifteen years.  Alaskans will have news they can touch and feel.  Otherwise ADN sounds like an advertising driven organization.

As most of you appreciate, as a business, what we “sell” is not just news but advertising and marketing tools for you to reach our readers. And as our industry evolves, we are growing to offer a more complicated and nuanced set of products.

Some even reach beyond the bounds of our own website and print publications. For example, readers and advertisers alike have been enjoying the sponsored giveaways hosted on our social media accounts. We are also helping our Alaska advertisers take their messages beyond by offering “programmatic” ad campaigns on the web managed in real time by our own in-house ad staff.

You may also have noticed what we call “Sponsored Content” on our site. These stories have traveled the history of the Iditarod Trail and explored the culinary delights of Alaska-grown seafood and produce. They have celebrated the Teachers of Excellence, sponsored by BP. 
That's the same BP that brought Americans the 2011 Gulf Oil Spew (which killed eleven people), the 2005 Texas City Refinery explosion (that killed fifteen and injured 180 people) and three Alaska pipeline spills, two in 2006 and the other in 2009.  It's the BP that gave CEO Bob Dudley a 20% increase in executive pay for sacking 7,000 jobs and getting BP the biggest financial loss in the company's sordid history.

Oddly, in August 2007 BP CEO Lord John Browne left to join Riverstone Holdings, a joint venture partner with The Carlyle Group.  Which brings us back to Mrs. Rubenstein's Alaska newspaper that partners with BP on Sponsored Content.  ADN's future includes:

We’re always looking for the next great idea for a product that provides great content to our readers and maximum exposure to Alaska businesses.
I don't believe the ADN has a split identity at all.  It's a tool for development, both energy and economic. The future is profits.  That means not digging to find private equity bribes to access public pension funds.  The Carlyle Group and Riverstone paid a combined $70 million to make a New York pension fund investigation go away.  

The Carlyle Group started after David Rubenstein and his partner earned tens of millions in fees from selling Alaskan Native tax losses to corporations. The New Yorker reported:

The episode became known in Washington business lore as the Great Eskimo Tax Scam
I'm afraid Alaskan investment is for the taking and Rogoff's newspaper will not act as a public counterbalance, much less an investigative entity.  Alaskans themselves will need to be wary of who is behind what and why.  Greed is the norm in today's investment world.   

ADN, the largest daily newspaper in Alaska,  is in investment mode.  So is Alice Rogoff's Pt Capital, an Alaska based private equity underwriter.  ADN missed their intersection in the past.  And that points to another aspect of Rogoff's ADN future.