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The System Is Corrupted, and the Mainstream Media Is Lying to us! Exploring the Relation Between Affinity Toward Conspiracy Myths and Alternative News Media Usage


Vogler, Daniel; Rauchfleisch, Adrian; Schwaiger, Lisa (2024). The System Is Corrupted, and the Mainstream Media Is Lying to us! Exploring the Relation Between Affinity Toward Conspiracy Myths and Alternative News Media Usage. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 36(1):edad044.

Abstract

Alternative news media (ANM) have become an important information source for certain audiences. Research shows that ANM usage is linked to a preference for populist parties and the use of digital media. However, ANM existed before the rise of populism and digital media over the last two decades. Thus, we must assume that additional factors are related to ANM usage. To investigate such factors, we conducted a cross-sectional online survey (N = 1,212) of the Swiss population. We analyze how affinity toward conspiracy myths, preference for populist parties, the usage of social media, and the Telegram messenger app are related to ANM usage. The results indicate that people with a high affinity toward conspiracy myths are more likely to use ANM. Different than in previous studies, preference for populist politics is not related to higher ANM usage in Switzerland. Our results suggest that the political context matters when studying ANM usage and that the strong focus on right-wing populism might lead to scholars missing part of the bigger picture. Furthermore, our findings indicate that the use of social media and Telegram, which recently gained relevance as a channel for mobilizing protests during the COVID-19 pandemic, positively connect with ANM consumption.

Abstract

Alternative news media (ANM) have become an important information source for certain audiences. Research shows that ANM usage is linked to a preference for populist parties and the use of digital media. However, ANM existed before the rise of populism and digital media over the last two decades. Thus, we must assume that additional factors are related to ANM usage. To investigate such factors, we conducted a cross-sectional online survey (N = 1,212) of the Swiss population. We analyze how affinity toward conspiracy myths, preference for populist parties, the usage of social media, and the Telegram messenger app are related to ANM usage. The results indicate that people with a high affinity toward conspiracy myths are more likely to use ANM. Different than in previous studies, preference for populist politics is not related to higher ANM usage in Switzerland. Our results suggest that the political context matters when studying ANM usage and that the strong focus on right-wing populism might lead to scholars missing part of the bigger picture. Furthermore, our findings indicate that the use of social media and Telegram, which recently gained relevance as a channel for mobilizing protests during the COVID-19 pandemic, positively connect with ANM consumption.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute for Research on the Public Sphere and Society
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
070 News media, journalism & publishing
Language:English
Date:1 March 2024
Deposited On:15 Jan 2024 17:50
Last Modified:16 Jan 2024 02:44
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:0954-2892
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/ijpor/edad044
Project Information:
  • : FunderSwiss Federal Office of Communications
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)