Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Polly McLean

Second Advisor

Michael Tracey

Third Advisor

Carew Boulding


Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have a unique place in the realm of development. These organizations present themselves as autonomous collectives acting through the shared will of civil society in an attempt to make the world a better place. One such organization is the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The NED has an interesting relationship with how it functions as a nonprofit. Since its inception the organization has been shrouded in criticism for the way it functions and distributes the money it gets allocated from the United States Government. What is investigated in this thesis is the manner in which the NED utilizes various forms of media to demonstrate the efficacy of its work, to cultivate credibility and authenticity, and how it provides opportunities for interaction and association through the public sphere of the digital realm.

This thesis examines the history of the National Endowment for Democracy as well as its communications programs accessed via the Internet. Findings include the organization’s function as a shadow organization executing the ideological and economic wills of the US government, the mismanagement of the organizations website and dubious narrative claims, and the visual representations of democracy utilized, or not utilized, by the organization in comparison to other media sources.