May 4 launch date for GRI Media Sector Guidelines

Global Reporting Initiative

The Global Reporting Initiative ( yesterday announced the launch date for its long-awaited Media Sector Supplement which will provide guidelines on how media-related organisations should report their environmental and social impact.

In the public consultancy issued earlier in 2011 (see link below) a new area was added for media governing content, which calls for greater transparency in the editorial decision-making process, and also to reveal major financial contributors either from business, through advertising, or from government sources.

The other key premises in the earlier draft were:

  1. žThe environmental impacts of activities are commonly called the environmental footprint. žMedia organizations, via content, have a potentially great influence on individuals or groups of people. This influence can be called a ‘brainprint’. žThe media sector is not a major environmental polluter, but can clearly pollute minds.ž Media organizations should therefore report on their potential ‘brainprint’, whether positive or negative.
  2. žThanks to the content that it creates and disseminates, the media sector is uniquely positioned to address and communicate sustainability issues. žBy communicating information, and providing access to it, media organizations can help to ensure that citizens are equipped with the tools to make informed choices on issues that affect their lives.
  3. žNews media organizations often serve as watchdogs, holding others to account on society’s’ behalf, and are expected to follow high governance and ethical standards themselves.
  4. Media outlets are also crucial to the exercise of freedom of expression, a fundamental element of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, because they provide the public platform from which the right is exercised effectively.
  5. žMedia organizations therefore have a responsibility to ensure that their content is relevant, understandable, credible and accountable.žThey also have a responsibility to ensure that their content is diverse, represents a plurality of views, and promotes cultural diversity as “a mainspring for sustainable development for communities, peoples and nations.”

GRI’s Media Supplement also asks key questions such as:

“What is the role of freedom of expression in a company’s values and operations?

What is the effect of financial contributions from governments?

And how does a company take responsibility for the impact of its content on people’s behavior and attitudes?”

As mentioned in an earlier post, this GRI supplement is also geared at PR agencies. Tamara Bergkamp, from the GRI’s Reporting Framework team has reaffirmed to me in an email yesterday evening that: “Public relations agencies can find the supplement relevant for their operations.” GRI in an earlier email also confirms the MSS is also pertinent for “broadcast, news and video game creators.”

The Media Sector Supplement was developed by a multi-stakeholder Working Group, and was available for public consultation during two 90-day public comment periods. The process was managed by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in partnership with Fundación Avina, Fundación Nuevo Periodismo Iberaomericano and Universidad Javeriana.

It will be launched on May 4 at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Press Freedom Day International Conference.

You can read this article from the UK’s The Guardian newspaper ( for more background on the MSS and the final draft that was circulated for public review may be accessed here (MSS Full Draft 2011).


About stephenking2012

In 2012 I volunteered to hold the position of Chair - Standards & Ethics Committee for the Middle East PR Association (@MEPRA_org). I have set up this account to assist in this effort. You may also like to follow my Blog or connect with me on LinkedIn. In any case, please do visit, and if you are not yet a member, please do sign up!
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