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Rise of alternative news sources

25 January 2019

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Researchers at Cardiff University will study the rise of online alternative political media and public attitudes towards mainstream media.

Led by Dr Stephen Cushion, a Reader at the School of Journalism, Media and Culture, the three-year project will investigate the production, content and consumption of both left and right-wing alternative online political media.

In doing so, it will also examine public disengagement with the mainstream media, exploring why some people are turning to alternative news sources.

Dr Cushion said: “The motivation for the study is in response to many voters going beyond the mainstream media during the 2017 UK general election campaign and turning to online alternative political media, such as The Canary, Evolve Politics, Skwawkbox, Westmonster and Breitbart UK.

“These sites became a prominent part of the campaign because they reached voters across social media platforms, bypassing the reliance on conventional news outlets. Our project aims to understand why people are turning to alternative political media and to critically examine the kind of information they are being supplied.”

The project, ‘Beyond the mainstream media: Understanding the rise of alternative online political media’, is supported by a £517,731 research grant awarded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Working with journalists, politicians and media regulators, the study aims to reflect on the wider implications of this trend.

Dr Cushion added: “We are living in exceptional times and it has never been more important for the public to be able to access accurate updates and commentary about current political events. This research will shine a light on an increasingly popular method by which people consume news and what it means for the future of our democracy.”

Dr Richard Thomas, a Senior Lecturer at Swansea University, is the Co-Investigator on the project. A full-time three-year research assistant will also be employed. This position is currently being advertised.

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