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The media as gatekeepers of CSR

Danapal Govindasamy / Khmer Times Share:
A team from Maybank distributing food aid, in the CSR programme, to poor Muslim Cham communities in Phnom Penh’s Chong Kos village. KT/Jean-Francois Perigois

Should the media, such as a newspaper group, try its best to be socially responsible, in the same way as a corporate body? Danapal Govindasamy tries to answer this question.

In an increasingly complex corporate world, the media plays a central role in defining and communicating what corporate social responsibility (CSR) is all about. Too often, corporations tend to soft pedal the crucial role of the media in helping to communicate their key messages to key stakeholders. Indeed, many corporations seem to approach the media with deep suspicion and hostility, regarding media relations as little more than a crisis management tool.

But CSR leaders in the know see media relations and corporate communications as a strategic management practice. They cultivate relations with media – and not just with big-name media, but also with local media relevant to their business operations.

It is becoming increasingly clear now that strategic communications is a critical asset for any organisation – be it from the public arena, the private sector, or civil society. Strategic communications will continue to play an important role in dispelling confusion, resolving conflict and bringing parties together for the improvement of our world.

But while addressing CSR from the corporate point of view, one needs to appreciate the fact that the media, too, has to look at its own corporate social responsibilities.

This brings us to some pertinent questions: Should the media, such as a newspaper group, try its best to be socially responsible, in the same way as a corporate body? And if so, how should it go about carrying out its social responsibility? How should it perform practical social activities and how should the public recognise or view such actions?

Taking the Khmer Times Group, as an example of a newspaper corporation, it needs to be acknowledged its CSR is tweaked for the following two reasons.

Firstly, attracting public interest is in itself a motive for its corporate social service although it is an acknowledged fact that basic corporate activities such as profit creation, maintenance of the company’s operations, and return on investment, are absolute vitals to keep the newspaper going as a sustainable business venture.

In fact, its operations are seen as an investment concept to improve its corporate image. In the long run, the success of this concept rests largely on how the company’s employees respond, since they can be a motive for corporate social responsibility.

Secondly, its employees have formed strong positive images in the eyes of the public and the paper’s readership. These two points illustrate why the Khmer Times acknowledges its social responsibility, despite the fact that it has specific characteristics that differentiate it from general corporations.

As part of the CSR, it has partnered with corporations to produce very successful supplements, including CSR supplements involving members of CSR Platform Cambodia. For Khmer Times it has taken time for it to find its way in a small but crowded market, made possible with the support of the newspaper’s young, but vibrant team which has faith in CSR.

Danapal Govindasamy is a writer in Khmer Times’ supplements section.

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