By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury
CSR as reflected in mainstream Media:
Reflection of CSR in particular and development issues in general in mainstream media in developed and developing nations has been of low in general, except on certain days (like World Health Day or World Environment Day). There are very few exceptions and far in between. Programs like Living on the Edge in Star Channel once are very few. Specific dedicated pages in newspapers (general or business) or a CSR program every week in a business channel is still not the reality in UK or India, USA or UAE. While business media has grown several times in all forms, reflection of CSR has not.
CSR of Media Organizations:
One good international example of CSR of Media is the making of Media CSR Forum based out of UK. The “Media corporate social responsibility (CSR) forum” is a group of big media companies developing CSR and sustainability practices and understanding for the media sector. The Forum was established in 2001 following recognition that the practice of CSR and sustainability for media companies has many unique features that sets it apart from traditional industry and other business sectors. Its work includes: developing an understanding of the implications of CSR for media members; identifying areas for prioritisation; sharing best practices; engaging with stakeholders; and running collaborative projects on key issues. The companies include BBC, Guardian, Aegis, Sky, Informa, IPC Media, ITV, MTG, News International, Pearson, Reed Elsevier, Random House Group, TFI, Trinity Mirror, Turner, Yell, Virgin Media, United Business Media, etc. Media organizations in India are beginning to have Foundations, like Times Foundation, India Today Relief Fund, etc.
CSR Media (media focussed on CSR only):
There are some portals who have done good work on CSR, and also some wire services. Mention can be made to www.csrwire.com, www.csrmedia.com. CSRwire shares best CSR stories from around the world and also provides CSR content to mainstream media. CSR Media brings in quality audio content and still visuals on CSR for people and other media, specially radio stations and magazines.
There are www.in.reset.to and www.csrdigest.com which also give information on CSR and development issues, and provides platform to interact and engage suitably as well.
In India, INDIACSR (www.indiacsr.in) is only and the biggest Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility (CSR) news portal in India. INDIACSR is the leading and only Indian business network for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) dedicated to making significant contributions through adding new dimensions and perspectives to the domain of CSR and Sustainability. INDIACSR has created a platform that enhances companies need to share ideas on their CSR best practices and discuss collaborative projects between the firm and its end stakeholders. INDIACSR provides a forum to initiate a dialogue on creating a competitive edge with the help of CSR activities and seeks help from Industry experts.
Media Tools of CSR:
‘Charities have a unique ability to reach into communities and make a difference where it matters most. I hope through our work we will be able to harness that reach for even greater impact, with communities but also with funders and supporters, and that the charity and community sector can rightly be celebrated and recognised as a trusted route to individuals in many diverse communities.’ Caroline Diehl, Chief Executive, Media Trust.
Several media and consulting initiatives help develop the media tools and communications functions of development organizations and CSR functions of corporate houses too. Karmayog.org is one such initiative in India, and so is Samhita CSR Advisory.
Convergence in media is the present status in developed nations and is the near future in the developing world. It calls for integrated social or marketing communication, for bringing content and audience engagement seamlessly on all platforms: offline (newspapers and magazines), online and New Media (portal, ipad, mobile), on air (radio and television) and on ground (events and roadshows). And, that is what we need to aim for, effectively, even in the context of CSR. There is still the need for a Convergent, Integrated, Multi-media Platform for Global CSR, with emphasis more on Asia and Africa, where all of the above media vehicles come together to inform, educate, interact with, engage and even entertain positively the audiences at different levels about CSR: focusing on the role of the corporate in the development sector.
Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury is the Dean at Whistling Woods School of Communication, Mumbai, and former Dean, Symbiosis International University, Pune. He is also the Managing Editor of NGI (New Global Indian) magazine and portal. He can be reached at email@example.com and 0-91-93733-11239.
The article is based on his presentation at INDIACSR International Conference on CSR & Competitiveness held on 9th May 2012 in Mumbai.