The Triple Bottom Line (TBL) Standard
At the core of the TBL standard is the principle of sustainability. Equally applicable to nonprofits, governments as well as businesses, the TBL measures the “degree to which an organization is being sustainable or pursuing sustainable growth can be difficult.” (Slaper & Hall, 2013) Scholars like John Elkington were instrumental in devising quantitative measurement scales for TBL. Under the system, conventional focus on profits is excluded. It its place, new parameters such as environmental and social effects of business actions were added to the usual measures of return on investment and shareholder value. By focusing on comprehensive investment results—
“that is, with respect to performance along the interrelated dimensions of profits, people and the planet—triple bottom line reporting can be an important tool to support sustainability goals. Many businesses and non-profit organizations have adopted the TBL sustainability framework to evaluate their performance, and a similar approach has gained currency with governments at the federal, state and local levels.” (Slaper & Hall, 2013)
TBL is an apt choice for evaluating News Corp’s business practices because it encompasses all relevant ethical dimensions. News Corp’s SBC also briefly mentions the environmental and people dimensions, but its main concern is its ‘stakeholders’, which is usually limited to shareholders, partners and consumers. Hence, TBL offers a more comprehensive ethical framework compared to the limited guiding principles written into the SBC.
Comparison of News Corp’s Practices under TBL and SBC
- Undue Intrusions into Political Processes
One of the first instances of News Corp’s opportunistic use of political connections came to light in1995. Murdoch struck a book deal with the then House Speaker Newt Gingrich for a substantial sum of $4.5 million. The ethical problem was obvious in this case. Murdoch, who was even at that time an influential and trans-global media personality, owned a newspaper chain and several television stations. He stood to gain enormously through the relationship with the Speaker. It was only after severe public backlash that Gingrich decided to return the advance and settled for sales-driven royalties. (Tolchin & Tolchin, 2001, p. 5)