ROLE OF MEDIA IN CREATING AWARENESS
Apr 16 - 22, 2012
Integrity in business has traditionally meant being honest, upright, and ethical, but in response to globalization, companies are being forced to move beyond this definition and add to it another fundamental quality - integration with society. This integration with society develops a concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
When we analyze about CSR, it seems that it is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large.
In present globalised world, it becomes necessary that corporations must anticipate and respond directly to the demands of public opinion rather than wait for government intervention, mediation and regulation to force them into action.
However, here, media has the potential to be an extremely positive force that fuels the engine of business growth and development and contributes to social and environmental sustainable development. A good reputation is certainly an asset for any company, but to public that has raised its expectations of business responsibility to society, being good just isn't good enough. More than public relations posturing, social responsibility in corporations is proving essential to the long-term success of companies in today's globalized economy.
Businesses must now contend with a globalized public that is increasingly aware of business obligations to society and expects a level of accountability that most companies cannot meet. Good companies must go beyond merely being good - they must have integrity and a strategy aligned with it.
Traditionally in the United States, CSR has been defined much more in terms of a philanthropy model. Companies make profits, unhindered except by fulfilling their duty to pay taxes. The European model is much more focused on operating the core business in a socially responsible way, complemented by investment in communities for solid business case reasons.
In our own state context, the high incidence of poverty, weak civil society and governance failures mean that there are not often fewer conventional drivers for CSR. The priority for most individuals, whether as customers or employees, is securing a livelihood, and demands for improvements in labour conditions or for socially-responsible products are often of secondary concern. Unfortunately, companies still do not see a direct relationship between adopting CSR practices and financial success and, therefore, view the CSR agenda as a low priority or even irrelevant.
In this situation, our media can promote a correct concept of CSR, providing a cultural change that fosters ethical values and visions of a new world in the community. In Europe, media has played a key role focused on corporate irresponsibility, oil spills, spying scandals, and human rights abuses by government. There media watchdog role is important, and it should hold firms to account. It can certainly teach the public about the importance of CSR and make sure companies know that these issues are important to the people who buy their products. However, identifying the media particular and critical position in Pakistan is not yet possible to replicate.
No doubt, our media (particularly private channels) have increased their coverage dramatically in the past few years related to consumer's related crimes and their rights; along this awareness campaign by a series of programmes looking at social problems, community involvement and environmentally challenges (campaign on earth hour). However, still there are some gaps due to lack of strong institutions, and there is the risk that CSR occupies spaces that are the responsibility of the state.
Here question arises that what should the media role be in raising awareness in our society?
The answer comes in two aspects: one directly related to role of media itself towards CSR; and role of media creating CSR.
On the surface, the media (print and electronic) appear as service providers of necessary information and harmless entertainment. But, the actual incentive behind the continuous blaring of sensational information in every household is mainly corporate, commercial greed with little regard to media ethics. There seems to be no concern to play a positive role in the development of the people by trying to bridge the gaps, which have been left due to bad governance and lack of vision by the leaders of a predominantly illiterate country.
Almost all the shows are made for the urban, consumerist population - an easy prey for the advertisers. For the majority of our population, it is a daily struggle just to make both ends meet. When they see the lavish cooking shows, which use nothing less than boneless chicken and canned mushrooms, ingredients which are the products of huge corporations, and plays in which females wear Banarsi saris, gold jewellery and full make-up in their daily lives at home, what are the people living on meagre rations of everything supposed to make of it?
With so much social alienation between the economic classes and the urban/rural divide, can they identify with the country our media depicts? How do we expect them to have patriotic feelings or the right values?
Here, media should display some ethics and corporate social responsibility by trying to include the rural and the poor population in their audience and plough back some of their profits in trying to bridge this divide. Sometime should be dedicated to nation-building, developmental programmes, from adult literacy to awareness of traffic rules, environmental issues such as garbage disposal and conservation of water, moral values such as honesty, respect for other people's rights such as queuing up and not elbowing out people who were there first.
Along this, if society is to sustain development it needs good indicators but it also needs individuals and groups who demand and use detailed and quality information to solve problems and others like the media who produce information to meet that demand. Providing this kind of information by media helps level the playing field for negotiation, since less powerful interests will typically have poorer access to information. Performance reporting can also help governments, companies and other organizations understand the effectiveness and impacts of their own actions, for instance.
Another main role of the media in a society is to scrutinize every single action from social actors. Certainly, the media coordinate, reinforce, and control dialogues between private and public representatives.
Another important aspect of the media is to establish the main topics in the social agenda, which receive social attention as well as more discussion among social leaders. For this, performance reporting can also help governments, companies and other organizations understand the effectiveness and impacts of their own actions, for instance.
The media and journalists can do their reporting on issues of business morality and analyze the new developments on their own terms instead of as elements in old plots. What counts for them is finding human solutions to complex problems, a task that would become even harder without the careful involvement of responsible journalism.
Finally, the watchwords of these new relationships will be transparency, credibility and realism in the service of real improvements in the lives of real people.
Indeed, media can be seen positively as the most powerful instrument used today for teaching, creating awareness, swaying opinions and the influencing of minds, especially of the young. In fact, the media has provided our country with many outlets for debate and discussion, which are necessary.
The media sector has a role, much like any other business section, in promoting corporate responsibility in its business outputs as well as through its own office practices.