Can NGOs Change the News?

Silvio Waisbord


This article analyzes the newsmaking experiences of selected NGOs in Latin America. It argues that the newsmaking experiences of NGOs reflect the ascendancy of a pragmatic approach characterized by organizations engaging with the press and state actors to gain visibility and construct social problems as public issues. The wide-ranging interests and goals among NGOs, coupled with the heterogeneous interests of news organizations and state officials, make it impossible to produce generalizations about the impact of NGOs in strengthening linkages with the press. Not all civic demands have similar chances of finding sympathetic and receptive actors. The fact that NGOs pursue separate newsmaking strategies with different results evidences the fragmented and conflictive character of civil society. The analysis has implications for understanding both the effectiveness of NGOs in making the press permeable to citizens’ interests, and the articulation between civic society and the media.

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