Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


International Studies

First Advisor's Name

Clair Apodaca

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Elisabeth Prugl

Third Advisor's Name

John Clark

Date of Defense



Initial representations of the Rwanda genocide in the Western media were at best inaccurate and at worst, stereotypical, citing African "tribal savagery" and "centuries-old tribal hatred" as the reason for the mass killings. Two major human rights organizations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, had the opportunity to correct media portrayals and help shape the agenda for policymakers. The purpose of this study was to take a critical look at media portrayals and discover whether these two nongovernmental organizations played a role in influencing the coverage. An extensive media analysis of three elite Western newspapers found that NGOs were the single largest source of nuanced political explanations countering stereotypes of African "tribal warfare." Human Rights Watch, in particular, played a pivotal role in sensitizing the media to the genocide's character as a planned, politically motivated campaign.




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