“Not enough yet”: CSR communication of stigmatized industries through news coverage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication covered by the news media is considered as more credible and effective in shaping public perceptions toward corporations than CSR shared by corporations themselves. This is particularly true when CSR is about corporations with social stigma inherent in business practices. This study examines the CSR publicity of stigmatized industries from the journalism lens. Design/methodology/approach: A content analysis was conducted with CSR stories from 2019 to 2020 by USA newspapers (n = 348). Findings: Results of this study showed that the overall volume of CSR from stigmatized industries has decreased, with fewer responses to the recent pandemic. Further, the media brought promotional CSR activities and the business motives behind the activities into focus. Opposing patterns were found for CSR of non-stigmatized industries presented with philanthropic activities based on corporations' social motives to help communities. Similarly, economic and legal responsibilities reflected in the CSR pyramid were more prominently reported for stigmatized industries, and ethical and discretionary responsibilities appeared more frequently for non-stigmatized industries. Practical implications: Integrating business and media literature, this study enriches scholarly discussions on media processes and effects for CSR communication. This study also provides practical implications for stigmatized industries by highlighting more authentic and careful approaches for CSR communication to earn positive publicity. Social implications: This study provides social implications by highlighting the importance of CSR communications through the lens of news media when corporations are socially stigmatized. Originality/value: Stigmatized industries are known to be active in CSR communication to nullify social stigma surrounding themselves. The authors' findings provide empirical evidence suggesting that not all publicity benefits CSR communication for stigmatized corporations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCorporate Communications
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Corporate social responsibility
  • CSR communication
  • Industry Stigma
  • Media processes and effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial relations
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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