Reporting on CSR: A Clinic For The Media

tbl, in its second year of publishing is taking its vision forward, and engaging in initiatives and activities beyond just publishing, in line with the 360 degree nature of the publication.

tbl held a workshop ‘Reporting on CSR: A Clinic for the Media’, on March 19 at the National Foods Limited Corporate Office, Karachi. A group of enthusiastic journalists and reporters from various organizations of the print and electronic media attended the workshop including Samaa TV, The News, Daily Jang, Radio 1 FM 91, Newsline to name a few. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) coverage has gained considerable momentum and the print and electronic media both are increasingly covering and highlighting CSR related stories. However, much awareness is needed in terms of an understanding of CSR generally and especially in terms of reporting on CSR. Conducted by Mr. Zohare Ali Shariff, editor-in-chief of tbl and CEO of Asiatic Public Relations along with Ms. Khadeeja Balkhi, a sustainability consultant and tbl’s editorial director, the purpose of the workshop was to teach reporters and journalists what guidelines to follow and which key pointers and issues to keep in mind while reporting on CSR. The participants were taught what repor-ting on CSR entails and how to approach companies when reporting on their CSR activities and stories.

The workshop was divided into 4 modules and was started off by Mr. Shariff.  He gave an extensive history of CSR from the economist Howard R. Bowen who stated the businessmen’s obligations to society to Milton Freedmen, who opposed such theories. He explained how the term CSR was coined early in history and its importance, followed by the difference between the often-confused terms, CSR and Philanthropy. Next, he spoke about the importance of the Stakeholder theory in the corporate world and emphasized that when journalists are reporting on CSR, it is vital that they have full knowledge of the stakeholders of the company they are giving coverage to.

The second module, ‘Asking the right questions – with the right tools’ was conducted by Ms. Balkhi, who spoke about the different guidelines to benchmark by. Topics varied from local to global guidelines for corporate behaviour, toolkit development and a discussion on applicable laws. Ms. Balkhi emphasized the Media’s role in society highlighting that it is the ‘voice of the public’ and elaborated on its sphere of influence. She gave the CSR perspective in turbulent times with examples of the environment, society and the economy. She spoke about media’s corporate responsibility with examples of various initiatives taken by our local media including Dawn Foundation, MKRMS – Jang group, Samaa TV Channel etc. International case studies such as the BBC were also discussed and analyzed.

Module 3 ‘Implementing Learnings’ consisted of a group exercise in which the attendees were given time to think of an industry-based story with a CSR spin. They were divided into groups and had to plan and devise their structure of reporting on CSR, including how they would approach the subject, what questions they would ask, who they would contact for interviews, where they would gather the information from etc. The purpose of this exercise was to give the participants an experience of how they would implement their learning’s practically.

Participants of the media workshop engaging in a discussion during the group activity exercise.

Participants of the media workshop engaging in a discussion during the group activity exercise.

After lunch, the group exercise presentations took place. These led to an interesting and informative session with both the groups presenting their respective stories in completely different manners. The first group decided to act out their industry story situation with each member assigned a distinct role, while the other group read out their findings and answered any counter questions they were asked by the audience. The presentations were followed by a healthy debate amongst the various invitees.

It is through media that the masses gain knowledge about what is going on in the world around them It is the responsibility of reporters and media persons to explore and study every angle of a story before making it public. This media workshop by tbl provided these select media personalities with
in-depth knowledge of CSR and its reporting. The objective of the workshop was to enhance their reporting and writing skills, thus leading to a more effective and objective coverage of CSR in Pakistan.

Reporting on CSR: A Clinic for the Media by tbl was indeed a huge success and widely appreciated by the participants, who found the workshop very informative and useful.

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