The media plays an important role in communicating mass atrocities to audiences across the globe. This article critically examines how journalists’ framing of mass atrocities may contribute to public discourse on the responsibility to protect principle, in particular the perceived obligation to intervene in cases of mass atrocities. It will draw from a broader conceptual framework on bystander responses to mass atrocities and utilise evidence from the analysis of newspaper accounts of the Rwandan and Bosnian genocides. It will argue that, in some cases, media narratives may actually erode political will and encourage passivity in response to mass atrocities.