Ethical Performance
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editorial standards are the key issue for media sector

March 2005

Media companies can show their corporate responsibility best through transparent and responsible editorial policies, a consultation with the sector’s stakeholders has found.

A long dialogue with 130 interested parties revealed that their main concern was for the companies to conform to clear editorial policies and codes on accuracy and impartiality. Stakeholders said they wanted media companies to ensure the integrity of the images and information they broadcast or publish, and give high priority to ‘impartial and balanced output’ supported by editorial policies independent of ownership.

Although ‘investing in and supporting staff’ was ranked as fifth most important, other traditional core issues such as community investment, supply chain integrity and human rights, were placed much lower.

KPMG, which held the dialogue on behalf of the Media CSR Forum, a group of 19 companies, said the main concerns related to ‘the influence media companies can have on society through their product output, programming and content’. Noting the prominence given to editorial integrity, the professional services firm said media companies needed to tackle this sector-specific issue as a priority.

The consultation involved individuals working for pressure groups, investment management companies, rating agencies and academic institutions in face-to-face interviews, workshops and questionnaires. The views of employees, suppliers and other internal stakeholders were not sought.

Individual forum members intend to incorporate the findings in their work. The companies initially selected 30 issues they judged important, but stakeholders raised four more – content and access labelling, interaction, accessibility and responsible advertising.

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