Alternative Media and Ideological Counterpublics studies the role of hyper-partisan alternative media in the digital public sphere. Hyper-partisan alternative media have become crucial actors in modern societies, and their ideology-driven content presents a critical challenge for journalism, public deliberation and society at large. The project researches the role of left-wing and right-wing alternative online media in the formation of ideological counterpublics vis-à-vis the mainstream public sphere and hence their potential contribution to societal radicalization and the polarization of public discourse.
The project will contribute significantly to a rapidly expanding research agenda on the role of alternative media in modern mediated democracy. As the first project to systematically compare right-wing and left-wing alternative media across different countries, it will provide unique insights about how the role of alternative media differs between countries with different traditions of either including or excluding radical voices and viewpoints from the mainstream public sphere.
AlterPublics analyzes how right- and left-wing alternative media in four European countries (Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Austria) form connections to actors from the partisan mainstream, on the one hand, and more radical partisan actors, on the other hand. Four work packages each analyze a particular set of connections: 1) organizational ties and audience overlap, 2) hyperlinking and referencing practices 3) overlap in topics and 4) external content contributors (guest authors, columnists). To this end, the project collects text and video material published on websites, through RSS feeds and on various social media platforms (such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Telegram). This material is supplemented with other relevant documents and expert interviews.
Broadening and nuancing our understanding of hyper-partisan alternative media and their contribution to the formation of ideological counterpublics, the project results will guide media professionals, regulators and the public at large on how to tackle the challenges of societal radicalization, polarization and misinformation presented by this type of media.