One justification for maintaining the tradition of well-paid investigative journalists, such as at The New York Times, is that they are necessary for digging for and reporting on the "truth." Sharing-economy major player Uber seemed to be piggybacking on that value.
In Fortune, Geoffrey Smith tells us that Uber senior vice president for business Emil Michael told attendees at a dinner about that. Supposedly it was off the record. But, as every sophisticated member of the communications industry knows, there is no such thing.
What Michael discussed was hiring private investigators and journalists to dig up the dirt on Uber's critics in the media. That would include taking deep dives into their personal lives.
At the dinner was Buzzfeed. It made that content public. In response Michael denied that was the gameplan.
Influential venture capitalist Peter Thiel observed that Uber is "ethically challenged." The question for public relations case studies is this: Can bad publicity hurt a company. There is one school of thought which holds that there is no such thing as bad publicity.