Media Coverage of Corporate Social Responsibility

By James T. Hamilton

A paper by James T. Hamilton, fall 2002 Kalb Chair on Global Communications, explores the factors shaping media coverage of corporate social responsibility (CSR). This paper first reviews the many theories and definitions of CSR. Debates about CSR in academia, policy circles, and business arenas center on the set of policy issues involved, stakeholders affected, company motivations for participation, and implementation questions. After describing the likely market for CSR stories, the paper examine how reporters across countries and media outlets differ in their focus on issues, stakeholders, motivations, and implementation. Results from the content analysis demonstrate how economic incentives shape CSR stories and suggest how coverage might change if more information were readily available on the impact of CSR.

Download the paper (PDF).