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Wed, 12 Mar 2014 17:41:34 +0000
"For communication among alternative media producers, academics, artists, and activists." <[log in to unmask]>
Christian Fuchs <[log in to unmask]>
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Wed, March 19, 14:00-16:00
Matthew Powers: Can NGOs Do Journalism? Understanding the Information 
Work of Humanitarian and Human Rights NGOs
University of Westminster, Harrow Campus (tube stop: Northwick Park)
Room A6.8

Registration: at latest until Sunday, March 16, per e-mail to 
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For much of the 20th century, most of the international news reaching 
American audiences was produced by foreign correspondents stationed in 
news bureaus scattered across the globe. Whatever that model’s merits 
and shortcomings, there is little doubt it is a model under duress – if 
it’s not entirely broken. At the same time as foreign news coverage has 
been shrinking, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – groups like 
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam – have assumed 
increasingly prominent roles in the provision of information from 
abroad. Can NGOs play a role as journalistic entities by providing 
international affairs information? On the one hand, NGOs may represent 
an expansion of international news reporting, as their work might expand 
news coverage to locales and issues that otherwise receive little 
coverage. On the other hand, NGOs may constitute a threat to 
international news reporting by blurring the lines between advocacy and 
In this talk, I draw on interviews, participant observation and content 
analysis to argue that NGOs encounter journalism in at least three 
distinct ways. First, at the level of general news media, NGOs find 
their acceptance conditioned by a process of journalistic purification, 
wherein their work is accepted only if it obeys the norms and rules of 
journalistic production. Second, at the level of the prestige press, 
NGOs find increasing receptivity as information providers as a result of 
their broader inclusion in elite political debate. Third, found mostly 
online, NGOs ignore news organizations altogether and pursue their own 
direct-to-public communication, mixing journalistic and advocacy 
formats. I conclude by exploring some of the implications of these 
findings for the broader study of contemporary journalism and advocacy.

Matthew Powers is an Assistant Professor in the Department of 
Communication at the University of Washington-Seattle. His research 
interests include journalism studies, transnational advocacy and 
comparative media. His academic writings have been published in Journal 
of Communication, Journal of Communication Inquiry and Journalism 
Studies, among others. At present, he is working on a manuscript about 
the role NGOs play in the changing landscape of foreign news.