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2023 | Buch

CSR Communication in the Media

Media Management on Sustainability at a Global Level


Über dieses Buch

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an established management focus of today's companies and organizations of different types, scope and size. Communication practices on CSR and sustainability in the media industry, related theoretical concepts, and empirical foundations have not yet been sufficiently explored.

This book focuses on a new normative framework of sustainability, bridging the established debate on public value with the current debate on social impact and the social license to operate in the media industry. With a variety of contributions from theory and practice, the book addresses the dual nature of media and media companies, which simultaneously produce economic and cultural goods and thus bear a "double responsibility": on the one hand, for the way they present reality, monitor and criticize economic and political developments, and bring ethical concerns to the public debate. On the other hand, they bear responsibility for their own activities as companies (license to operate). The book is therefore aimed at readers interested in the journalistic perspective and at executives in the media industry.


Sustainable Communication? Media and Communication Responsibility in Global Transformation Processes
In the introductory chapter at hand, we give some background around CSR communication and sustainability as core principle for related activities and corporate behavior. We also present a new perspective on media business and media management by clarifying the specific stakeholder demands and expectations in a social, environmental, and economic dimension, while the focus of this book is to introduce sustainability as moral compass for media corporate behavior in the context of a global public sphere. Here, we reflect on global transformation processes and related corporate responsibilities. At the end of the chapter, the contributions to this volume are introduced and some reflections, points for discussion as well as thoughts around future research potential are shared.
Franzisca Weder, Lars Rademacher, René Schmidpeter
Conceptualizing Media CSR Communication: Responsible Contributions to the (Global) Public Sphere?
When corporations communicate across cultures—especially when issues like responsibility and sustainability are in the focus—the old local vs. global dilemma in international management and communication becomes high ethical relevance. Ethical norms and moral values differ across cultures—this may seem trivial and evident and has been discussed in business ethics and international CSR research for more than four decades. Differences in the economic development (e.g., emerging economies vs. the global north), the political situation (democracies with freedom of speech vs. censorship), differences in the cultural settings (importance of sustainability, commitment to environment) and in religious beliefs education and media usage—to name just a few do call for an adaption of CSR strategies, not only but also when it comes to the communication of CSR.
But if media corporations communicate CSR across cultures the latter aspect moves from periphery into the center—as their main product is content (even if a broader definition of the term “media corporation” is applied) and they deliver a contribution to the public sphere. So, what does it imply when content companies communicate CSR across cultures, what could and should it mean for them to communicate responsibly across cultures?
The chapter sketches answers to these questions and will argue for a connection between communication with integrity and about integrity and outline why and how the CSR communication of international media corporations (and intermediaries) should address these aspects.
Matthias Karmasin
Sustainability as Cultural Practice and Media as Institutions of Change
Today, everything seems to be “trimmed” for a sustainable future. Energy companies, the local bakery, the woman traveling to work with her bike. Sustainability is a moral compass, increasingly guiding individual behavior and decision-making; but above all, it challenges organizations of all kind and scope and drives their stakeholder relations and communication, manifested in 17 colorful Sustainable Development Goals (UN, 2021) and related frameworks on a national, regional, and local level. Accordingly, in 2021, cultural institutions including media corporates started to position themselves toward sustainability. They communicate their Corporate Social Responsibility and related activities, they consider their public role and value, and they increasingly publish information on the changing climate and for sustainable development. In this situation, it seems to be necessary to better understand the role of the media in processes of social change and transformation and in creating a “culture of sustainability” within and through the public sphere. The chapter at hand develops the idea of sustainability as cultural practice and, thus, picks up the concept of media’s twin responsibility and develops and re-defines media’s role in the global sustainability development.
Franzisca Weder
The Should, the Could, and the Would: On Paradox Constellations of CSR in the Media Business—and a Call to Action
It is widely known that media outlets are facing a doubled or twin responsibility that arises from their nature of being—at the same time—not only the producer of news media and therefore have the obligation of being an institution that is perceived as a watchdog and backbone to democracies worldwide; but also, a corporate citizen and formal organization that has responsibilities toward employees, communities, shareholders, and the society at large. This specific position of being in between two systems of ethical reasoning is a challenge for the media industry that becomes even more challenging when it comes to the recent expectations on what media could contribute to changing the mindset toward sustainability.
In the paper at hand the specific nature of challenges is discussed that arise from this constellation: what is to expect from media organizations (should), what is their potential (could), and where can a gap between their traditional role and the rising expectations be identified (would).
Lars Rademacher
Public Value for Public Service Media? A Case Study Analysis of Austria’s ORF
This study critically discusses public value theory and its validity in explaining impacts on principles and remit of Public Service Media (PSM) as it transitions into the digital era.
Firstly, it theorizes on the concept of “public value” and presents some scholarly debates around the concept’s approach to measurement and funding as applied to the media industry. It asks whether PSM validly and evidently generates both economic value and societal welfare.
Secondly, a case study analysis of Austria’s Public Service Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) reflects how the Austrian PSM is coping with the current transformation of public service broadcasting through means of its public value “TransFORM” project.
While the theoretical development of the still young concept of “public value” has come a long way, considerable work remains for it to be embedded as a stable construct in the field. The case study reveals key dilemmas in delivering the promises of PSM’s contribution to society.
Paul Clemens Murschetz, Eduard Frantz, Niko Alm
Crisis Communication and Corporate Responsibility in Media Companies
A Case Study of the “Relotius Scandal” and an Exploratory Study of Communication Managers and Ombudsmen
This chapter will focus on particularities of crisis communication in media companies. Based on a case study of the “Relotius scandal” at Germany’s most authoritative news magazine, DER SPIEGEL, it will highlight how boundaries between journalism and corporate communication are likely to blur in times of crises. Corporate institutions focusing on journalistic quality, such as ombudsmen (also: readers’ advocates), therefore emerge as a critical element of crisis prevention and communication. Empirically, this chapter is based on a review of trade reporting on the “Relotius scandal” as well as interviews with communication managers of leading German media companies and ombudsmen. Crisis communication relates to CSR communication in media companies in two ways: First, sustainability issues can be potential causes of corporate crises. Second, in media companies, corporate responsibility extends to the quality of journalism provided to the public. Crises constitute a challenge to journalistic quality and therefore media companies’ CSR performance.
Christian Pieter Hoffmann, Stephan Russ-Mohl
Corporate Social Responsibility: Hiring Requisition in Media Companies?
The article analyzes the recruiting communication of the 10 largest media brands in Austria and Germany with regard to the playout of CSR content for the recruitment of prospective executives. For this purpose, the article looks at the communication on the company accounts within the social networks Xing and LinkedIn, as well as the communication within the recruiting websites.
The analysis reveals striking differences between Austrian and German media companies. These differences concern both the (technical) performance of the websites and the content of the overall recruiting communication.
The article concludes that CSR content has so far only been used sporadically to raise awareness among potential future executives. Especially the integration into web and SEO strategy offers relevant potentials to win responsible executives.
Gerrit Boehncke
Smart Exclusion: How May Digital Platforms Hinder Inclusivity within News Organizations?
Drawing on the data colonialism perspective and the labor process theory, this chapter critically discusses how digital platforms may hinder news organizations’ inclusivity and thus social responsibility if their in-depth implications at the macro and micro levels are not well understood. While the study recognizes the positive potentialities of digital technologies for fostering media activities and workplaces, it also highlights a capitalist mode of production steering them, which may have some critical consequences for news media management. More clearly, on the one hand, digital technologies could be harnessed to extract, produce, analyze, and distribute data in an intelligent way and thus allow news organizations to reach both profit and positive social impact. On the other hand, however, these technologies transform the nature of news work, moving its focus from creating public-informing ideas to distributing and marketing activities. Smart technologies create a new, uncontested reality for defining the workplace in news organizations and demand mainly, if not only, the involvement of tech-savvy talents ideally best suited to work within this new context. As a result, a process that we call “smart exclusion” emerges, which impacts news organizations’ social license to operate. This paper tries to conceptualize the process of smart exclusion in news media, suggesting a symbiotic perspective for dealing with the related challenges and ensuring the respect of the diversity and inclusion dimensions of news organizations’ social responsibility.
Cinzia Dal Zotto, Afshin Omidi, Esmaeil Norouzi
CSR in the News Media Industry in Times of the Climate Crisis: A Critical Reflection
The contribution at hand zooms in on—what the authors describe as—the double responsibility of news media in the climate crisis. It aims to, on the one hand, contribute to an extended understanding of news media CSR in times of the climate crisis, and on the other hand critically reflect on the limitations of CSR in the media industry. The contribution draws on literature at the intersection of CSR, the news media and the climate crisis, and empirical work that has looked into four major media corporations in Australia, India, the UK, and the USA, and their corporate responses to the climate crisis. The authors argue that since CSR operates within and adapts to an economic system whose pillars are largely unsustainable, CSR carries inherent limitations to constructively engaging with challenges posed by the multiple crises. Similarly problematic are the voluntary nature of CSR commitments, the resulting low public accountability, the divergence between intents and realization, the generic rhetoric of CSR documents, and the subordination of ethical goals to economic goals. Operating within the logic of an unsustainable economic system, including the continued strive for economic growth, CSR, thus, does not tackle the roots of the crises to which it aims to respond. As a consequence, the authors suggest a zoom out from the micro level towards the macro level, and propose a reorientation towards questions related to media regulation rather than placing trust primarily in voluntary self-regulation.
Livia Regen, Matthias Karmasin
Corporate Social Responsibility in German Media Companies: Motivation and Integration into the Corporate Strategy
In recent years, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become increasingly important for companies in many business sectors. If we look at media companies, they are often attributed a so-called twin responsibility. For one, having the responsibility for their journalistic content and role as fourth power of the state, and on the other hand, due to their corporate responsibility. The qualitative interviews with CSR representatives of private and public German media companies made it possible to conclude the current status of the media companies’ understanding of their responsibility, their CSR strategies, and their activities. Although most media companies still refer to their specific responsibility through their editorial content (i.e., their public value), simultaneously, there is a growing awareness of corporate responsibility. The media companies name motivational factors for taking up CSR measures at the societal level (legitimacy and credibility, bringing about change for society and the environment) and on the corporate level (employer branding, changed competitive environment, intrinsic motivation). The main strategic similarities lie in the organization of CSR in task forces and CSR responsibilities located at higher corporate levels. However, it is still difficult to distinguish between the strategies of private and public media companies at this stage, as only some of the media companies interviewed have professionalized CSR yet.
Annkathrin Clemens, Josephine Franz
Public Debates about the Social Responsibility of Media Companies: A Longitudinal Analysis of Swiss Media Companies from 2010 to 2019
With increasing competition among media organizations and growing moral expectations toward companies, the pressure on media organizations to assume social responsibility has significantly grown in recent years. This chapter adopts a media studies perspective, considering media social responsibility (MSR) in the public sphere as displayed by mass media. Media portrayals of responsible behavior in terms of MSR can positively influence the media organization’s social reputation, that is, its adherence to norms and values. The public negotiation of a company’s social responsibility in the media provides a distinctive feature in the case of media organizations because they are both reporters and subjects. The purpose of this chapter is to determine whether and if so, how news coverage about MSR has changed over time, how news coverage about MSR contributes to the media reputation of media organizations, and how these aspects differ between public and private media organizations and owned and non-owned media outlets. Therefore, we conducted a quantitative content analysis of news articles (n = 4556) in 10 Swiss media outlets covering the social aspects of Swiss media organizations from 2010 to 2019. Overall, our results show that MSR coverage has increased over the period, primarily driven by coverage of public media organizations’ MSR. However, the tone of the articles was mainly negative, implying that MSR may pose a risk to the social reputation of media organizations. By providing valuable and comprehensive insights into the role of the media in negotiating MSR, our study significantly contributes to the emerging field of MSR research.
Sarah Marschlich, Daniel Vogler
The Corporate Social Responsibility of the Media and the Turkish Media: Perspectives of Journalism Educators on Media and Corporate Responsibility
Today, media organizations—as for-profit organizations—conduct corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects. In this way, they contribute to society and strengthen and/or establish relationships with their stakeholders. One of the reasons why they engage in CSR is related to the impact of CSR on their reputation, and media organizations are aware of this outcome; they are also in “business.” This study aims to explore the concept of media responsibility and CSR of media institutions in Turkey from journalism educators’ point of view. It also aims to understand journalism educators’ perceptions of responsibility (also from the business perspective) of the Turkish media. The research has practical implications on journalism education because it investigates how and to what extent these issues are integrated into curricula, including the challenges in teaching media and corporate responsibility to journalism students.
Tevhide Serra Gorpe, Burcu Oksuz
“Social Responsibility” as a Weapon?
Public Service Journalism as Private Media’s Main CSR Tool in Chavista Venezuela
How do private news media outlets fulfil Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals in countries where journalism is restricted by laws and regulations boosted by authoritarian governments? This chapter attempts to provide some answers to this question by focusing on the case of Venezuela, where the 23-year rule of populist “Chavismo” (a term that merges Hugo Chávez’s and his successor Nicolas Maduro’s presidencies) has had a significant impact on the configuration and work of the private news media industry. Thousands of outlets of all types (legacy and digital native) have been intimidated, expropriated, or just obliterated in the last two decades. The government has bullied vocal journalists publicly, imposed heavy fines, penalized, and even arrested reporters and editors alike. This is explained by the fact that in Venezuela the term “social responsibility of journalism” has a double meaning that evokes Orwellian doublespeak: The legal governmental meaning that mandates the publication of information that is “truthful” (veraz), a word that can have subjective and often dangerous interpretations. And the purely professional meaning focused on practicing public service journalism and holding power accountable while trying to survive in the process.
Elena Block
Subsistence Journalism: Corporate Control and Corporate Change in Queensland Regional Journalism
In May 2020, at the height of the first COVID-19 lockdown in Queensland, Australia, the nation’s biggest news organisation, News Corp, announced they were closing many of their regional journals. For much of regional Queensland, the onset of news deserts looked probable until Victorian-based Star News Group filled the void left by News Corp. This paper looks at these changes from the perspective of journalists working for Star newspapers in the Queensland regional centres of Noosa and Gympie—and it reveals the challenges facing community journalism in post-Murdoch regional Queensland. This chapter also analyses the capacity of these news publications to do the kinds of journalism that sustain democracy at the local and regional levels. In doing so, the chapter reveals issues surrounding the sustainability of the publications themselves.
Richard Murray
Journalism and Ethics Amid the Infodemic
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, World Health Organisation (WHO) described what it calls the infodemic—a parallel crisis of information that clouds public debate and exacerbates the impact of the virus. The WHO blamed the way information flows through the internet for creating the infodemic. Other communications theorists have described the way in which the internet is degrading the Constitution of Knowledge—a community of scientists, academics, journalists, lawyers and government figures bound by the traditional liberal values of objectivity, factuality and rationality. Still others describe the way the media’s traditional ‘gatekeeping’ role (bound by similar norms) has been usurped by social media algorithms designed to monetise public attention. This chapter outlines those challenges, assesses what they mean for journalists, and calls for the media to abandon notions of ‘balance’ by giving equal weight to all opinions. It also calls for greater regulation of the internet for social good, and for funding models for journalism that separate it from either political or commercial pressure.
Peter Greste
Beyond State and Market Failure
Corporate Social Responsibility as an Elementary Component of the Mission and Public Value Management of Public Service Broadcasters
In the systemic understanding of the so-called dual broadcasting order, public service broadcasting in Germany has a serving character for society due to the codified function of basic provision and the accompanying dominance of the immaterial objective of program commissioning. Within the framework of an impact-based overall control, the question arises in this context, which is relevant for legitimization, how these non-profit organizations, as guarantors of quality and independent journalism, conceptually coordinate and adequately implement both the social added value of their program bouquet (public value) for a plural society and their (corporate) responsibility in the sense of sustainable management (corporate social responsibility). In this sense, the chapter explores the question of how, against the backdrop of a rather abstract public interest in implementation and operationalization, the two aforementioned concepts for management in the public sector can pick up on the specifics of a public service media house in a fitting manner, what their relationship is to each other, what fields of action they affect and are (already) planned, balanced, and implemented at all levels of everyday operations.
Wolfgang Reising
The Dual CR Responsibility of Media Companies: We Only Create Entertainment, Don’t We?
UFA has been making entertainment for more than 100 years, now for all broadcasters and platforms, daily and weekly series, movies, casting shows, crime series, historical multi-part series, daily soaps, movies, factual formats, family series, quiz shows and, most recently, documentaries. As diverse as the genres, formats, and playout methods may be, all our products are united by the desire to entertain. Success is always measured by ratings, but also by reviews and viewer feedback, the “buzz” a show generates in the press and now also on social media. As program makers, we have of course always had an attitude behind our content. In addition to entertaining and offering escapist moments, it has always been important to address socially relevant topics, for example, to give discussions a new perspective. Film has had this claim since its beginnings, and filmmakers have always had this responsibility. However, the examination of one’s own attitude and responsibility has become more intense in recent years against the backdrop of an ever faster, louder, and more extreme theoretical discussion and practical development of topics such as information technology, the understanding of democracy, economic systems, climate change, and power relations. The amplitude of opinions became larger, the polarization more extreme. Facts and the term Truth play a role above all in journalistic reporting. As producers of entertainment, it is not our original task to clarify facts. Nor is it easy for us to grasp the values involved in the public value debate. In principle, less value is attached to entertainment than to information, for example. But even without defining the value of entertainment at this point, we can and must be aware of our responsibility and our social impact through our communicative reach. We have the opportunity to consider diverse perspectives in our work. Our stance on numerous socially relevant issues also plays an increasingly important role for our current and future employees. As a large media company, we are also increasingly being asked to adopt a socially responsible stance. And so we too must and want to face up to our responsibility as producers and employers more consciously than ever before, and the diversity of perspectives in front of and behind the camera is no longer just a possibility but is becoming our responsibility. Let us take another step back.
Katja Bäuerle
Weder: What is your role and what are the main areas of responsibility, if we look at the Austrian media landscape and the ORF as public broadcaster?
Franzisca Weder
CSR Communication in the Media
herausgegeben von
Franzisca Weder
Lars Rademacher
René Schmidpeter
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