Case | HBS Case Collection | June 2010 (Revised October 2011)

ProPublica

by Michel Anteby, Philippe Bertreau and Charlotte Newman

Abstract

Stephen Engelberg, ProPublica's managing editor, entered the organization's newsroom located in lower Manhattan on September 16, 2008. He knew a historical financial debacle was happening at his doorstep, yet none of his journalists were covering that beat. It would take much effort to get up to speed on the story. Uncovering what caused the recent turmoil in financial markets and Lehman's failure would require skills, knowledge of financial services, and connections within the industry. ProPublica had been created only a year earlier as an independent, non-profit newsroom focused on investigative journalism. It was now fully staffed with close to 30 members, including journalists who had joined partly because of the promise of editorial latitude they were offered. As Engelberg weighed his various options, he knew all the major U.S. newsrooms were heading full speed to allocate resources covering the developing debacle. ProPublica needed to live up to the public's expectations. Should he assign the story to one of his journalists and, if so, whom? Alternatively, should he hire new talent? In that case who would be a good fit? Moreover, how might this impact ProPublica's model and culture?

Keywords: Employee Relationship Management; Leadership; Leading Change; Resource Allocation; Organizational Culture; Motivation and Incentives; Journalism and News Industry; Publishing Industry; New York (city, NY);

Citation:

Anteby, Michel, Philippe Bertreau, and Charlotte Newman. "ProPublica." Harvard Business School Case 410-140, June 2010. (Revised October 2011.)