Populist alternative news use and its role for elections: Web-tracking and survey evidence from two campaign periods


Müller, Philipp ; Bach, Ruben L.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/14614448211032969
URL: https://madoc.bib.uni-mannheim.de/60084
Additional URL: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1461...
URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-600841
Document Type: Article
Year of publication Online: 2021
The title of a journal, publication series: New Media & Society
Page range: 1-21
Place of publication: London [u.a.]
Publishing house: Sage Publ.
ISSN: 1461-4448 , 1461-7315
Publication language: English
Institution: School of Humanities > Institut für Medien- u. Kommunikationswissenschaft
School of Social Sciences > Statistik u. Sozialwissenschaftliche Methodenlehre (Kreuter 2014-2020)
Pre-existing license: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Subject: 070 News media, journalism, publishing
Keywords (English): Alternative media , elections , news , populism , survey , web-tracking
Abstract: This study explores voters' populist alternative news use during (different types of) democratic elections and investigates starting points for preventing potentially harmful effects. We draw from two combined data sets of web-tracking and survey data which were collected during the 2017 German Bundestag campaign (1523 participants) and the 2019 European Parliamentary election campaign in Germany (1009 participants). Results indicate that while populist alternative news outlets drew more interest during the first-order election campaign, they reached only 16.5% of users even then. Moreover, most users visited their websites rather seldom. Nonetheless, our data suggest that alternative news exposure is strongly linked to voting for (right-wing) populist parties. Regarding the origins of exposure, our analyses punctuate the role of platforms in referring users to populist alternative news. About 40% of website visits originated from Facebook alone in both data sets and another third of visits from search engines. This raises questions about algorithmic accountability.

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