Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Media Studies


Dr. Sandra Smeltzer



This thesis critically examines the way in which Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) frame the issue of internet censorship in China. As three of the world’s leading non-governmental human rights organizations, how these NGOs frame this issue—i.e. what aspects they emphasize or neglect, whose actions they highlight or obscure, and what kinds of solutions they propose—can influence which institutions or actors might take up the issue, who will pay attention to it, and what kind of action is taken to address it. In order to investigate the respective framing strategies employed by these NGOs in their discussions about internet censorship in China, a content analysis involving both quantitative and qualitative research methods was conducted on relevant literature published by all three organizations between the years 2005 - 2010.1found that all three NGOs tended to emphasize certain issues, including internet blocking and filtering, cyber dissidents, and foreign corporate complicity, while ignoring other issues, including Chinese internet laws and regulations, government surveillance and propaganda, and the complicity of hardware and domestic internet companies. The collective lack of attention to these items is problematic insofar as it may influence how target audiences interpret and respond to the issue of internet censorship in China. Largely ignored by these organizations, the items listed above are therefore likely to remain ignored by other political actors, including governments and policymakers with the capacity to take action on this issue.



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