Beyond Breitbart: Comparing Right‐Wing Digital News Infrastructures in Six Western Democracies

Annett Heft*, Eva Mayerhöffer, Susanne Reinhardt, Curd Knüpfer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Right‐wing online news media have emerged in many countries as an important force in the media landscape, positioning themselves as an alternative to a perceived political and media mainstream. This article studies these sites as a cornerstone of right‐wing digital news infrastructures in six Western democracies (Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom, and the United States). Drawing on content analyses of websites and social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter as well as on audience metrics, the article analyses content supply and audience demand structures, as well as organizational and thematic characteristics of seventy alternative right‐wing online news sites. We find that a country’s media and political context, in particular the representation of right‐wing positions in the political and legacy media sphere, can explain variation in the supply of—and demand for—right‐wing news across countries, but is mitigated by transnational audiences. At the same time, we can account for cross‐national heterogeneity of news sites, ranging from sites with a “normalized” appearance to more radical sites that clearly set themselves apart from legacy news outlets in terms of their thematic categories, their funding strategy, and their organizational transparency, leading to various types of digital right‐wing “alternatives” to mainstream news.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolicy & Internet
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)20-45
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Important note from the Publisher regarding the attached version of the article: "This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Heft, A., Mayerhöffer, E., Reinhardt, S. and Knüpfer, C. (2020), Beyond Breitbart: Comparing Right‐Wing Digital News Infrastructures in Six Western Democracies. Policy & Internet, 12: 20-45, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions."

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