GRI Media Sector Supplement Reflects a ‘Global’ Moral Code of Conduct

Congratulations to the Global Reporting Initiative and to all involved in developing its newly launched Media Sector Supplement. It cannot have been an easy task to produce such a powerful and important document, and the GRI’s success in publishing this on schedule within a fair amount of time reflects well on the maturity of the organisation and its management.

This is a document (MSS-Complete)that everyone in the communications field needs to read, reflect and understand. It arguably goes beyond the normal guidance supplements which generally offer a matter-of-fact mirror to industry practice and help to focus attention on those ‘evils’ that need to be managed or removed.

In the MSS the GRI, whether by design or ideals, has created a black-and-white code of conduct for media organisations to follow, and a structure for reporting. Although a voluntary document/system – which is also open to significant discretion by the implementing organisation – it forms the guidelines for potentially an entirely new area of regulation and legislation of ‘content’ companies (see below for how these may be defined).

Although some of the more controversial text has been removed – it no longer makes the potentially litigious claim that media ‘pollutes minds’ – the MSS still calls for media organisations to be ‘responsible, transparent and accountable’.

This would appear to be targeted as much at the influence of private sector companies and media management as traditional free-speech opponents.

They also list 8 principles for what might be considered ‘good’ conduct:

  1. Freedom of expression
  2. Information and education
  3. Pluralism and diversity
  4. Watchdog
  5. Cultural expressions and social inclusion
  6. Engagement
  7. Raising awareness of sustainability
  8. Media ‘brainprint’

These are pretty much covered in my earlier post from last week and I refer you to that posting and also to the text on page 9 of the complete MSS for more detail.

For comparison – please consider the MSS against the below code of conduct from the UK’s National Union of Journalists.

There is a fair amount of cross-over. Therefore, arguably, if you stand for this – then you cannot stand against the MSS and in fact, should seek GRI certification if the spirit of codes of conduct and ethics are in effect.

It may be argued that if  you have a code of conduct for your association then the GRI is providing the guidelines and structure on which you can report and confirm that you are actually standing by those ideals.

I could go on for a very long time about this report – I see enormous implications, and I will write again soon.

For the meantime, I wish to finish by correcting my earlier post which wrongly stated that PR Companies are not considered for this document. Reading page 10 more closely I see the following text under ‘For whom is the Sector Supplement intended?’

The MSS is intended for use by organisations that create and disseminate content for audience consumption using the tools and platforms of mass communication. The range of content is diverse, including news, information, opinion, entertainment, gaming, education, literature, advocacy and advertising.

Activities of these organisations incude at least one of the following:

  1. Creating content
  2. Owning a platform for the dissemination of content
  3. Reaching a sizeable audience with content

In this respect, the GRI and its MSS committee have managed to describe any and all organisations and individuals who are producing and disseminating content to any audience.

Please subscribe and stay tuned for further information and insight!


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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