Civic Organizations, Human Rights and the News Media

Authored by: Matthew Powers

The Routledge Companion to Media and Human Rights

Print publication date:  June  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138665545
eBook ISBN: 9781315619835
Adobe ISBN:


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Civic organizations – groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch – play a key role in the production and circulation of human rights discourses (Clark 2001; Keck & Sikkink 1998). Such groups investigate potential abuses, cultivate public support on human rights issues and petition political and economic elites to end human rights violations (Dawes 2007; Hopgood 2006). In all these efforts, the news media are an essential ally. Media coverage can bring attention to neglected issues, detail the institutional processes whereby human rights violations are adjudicated, and potentially influence the actions of political and economic leaders (Krain 2012). For all these reasons, one important aspect of human rights scholarship examines the relationship between civic organizations and the news media with whom they interact. Scholars have examined the strategies civic organizations use to attract media coverage (Ron et al 2005; Waisbord 2011), the permeability of the news media to human rights messages (Ramos et al 2007; Powers 2016a), and the effects of these interactions on civic organizations, journalism and human rights discourses more generally (Cottle & Nolan 2007; Tumber 2009).

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