Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are deeply embedded within the socio- political landscape of India. NGOs were instituted by the Indian government specifically for the purpose of nation-building at the time of national independence in 1947 (Muttalib, 1987). In recent times however, NGOs have come under much scrutiny because of the expanding neoliberal agenda, and global discourse surrounding NGOs often involves questions of accountability. Communication scholars have studied NGOs in various contexts, but what remains unexplored is the question of how NGOs are portrayed within the media, which in contemporary society constitutes the public sphere or space of public opinion. It is important to look at the media because public legitimacy can have serious consequences for an NGO's ability to garner funds, influence policy, and build trust in beneficiary communities. This study thus asks the research question: How are NGOs framed in the Indian media? A qualitative analysis was employed to identify news frames or 'interpretive packages' used to talk about NGOs in two of the most widely- circulated English daily newspapers in India. The analysis identified four frames: the 'do-good' frame, protest frame, partner frame, and the public accountability frame. The findings show that, for the most part, NGOs are represented in a positive and even a nationalistic light, in spite of the larger global discourse interrogating NGO practices. The discussion elaborates on institutional, political, and historical reasons why NGOs are portrayed favorably in the newspapers.
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