In Search of the “NGO Effect” on Media Coverage of Conflict: Measuring NGOs' Influence on Mediated Discourses on Violence and Peace

Eric Sangar, Christoph Meyer

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The growing influence of NGOs in the management and resolution of armed conflict is an often heard assumption. However, there is relatively little research on the specific impact of NGOs on mediated conflict discourses. Theories that posit a generally strong and growing influence of NGOs are not uncontested, and existing studies suggest often contradictory arguments as they predominantly draw on single or small-N qualitative case studies. The paper draws on a quantitative corpus analysis and a qualitative discourse analysis of conflict discourses covered the INFOCORE project to produce and compare more fine-grained results on the impact of NGOs on media coverage of potential or actual violent conflict. We operationalize and test NGO impact across specific geographical contexts, over a period of four years, and provide findings that relate in particular to the relevance of potential “push” and “pull” effects. We also examined in depth the nature of discourses that refer to 3 major INGOs. We found that NGO impact can differ dramatically across specific conflicts, which highlights the need to acknowledge contextual factors. Overall, NGOs are become more influential especially in times of drastically escalating violence, as was the case in Syria or in Israel/Palestine during the Gaza War of 2004. We also found that at least major INGOs are indeed able to drive media coverage. Especially in the two African actors, where they are sometimes transformed into partial conflict actors, INGOs appear able to shape the news. These findings open new and interesting questions for the search of a NGO effect.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2016
Event57th Annual Convention of the International Studies Association - Atlanta, United States
Duration: 16 Mar 201619 Mar 2016


Conference57th Annual Convention of the International Studies Association
Country/TerritoryUnited States
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