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How alternative are alternative media? A multilevel and multimethod investigation into the contribution of online news startups to media pluralism in Flanders.

In this current age of fake news and post-truth, traditional forms of journalism are under pressure. At the same time, online news startups are proliferating in today's digital media environment. These generally present themselves as alternatives to traditional, mainstream media and professional journalism. While past research has focused on content, production or interpretive strategies of the audience, there remains a gap in alternative media scholarship in terms of research that combines these three levels in a comparative design. The aim of this research proposal is to investigate if and how alternative media contribute to media pluralism in 21st century media landscapes. To this end, we put forward a highly innovative multimethod design, in which a quantitative and qualitative content analysis are used for the content level, interviews with the involved editors and contributors and document analysis for the production level, and online data streams and focus groups for the user level. In this way, this proposal not only puts forward a multi-methodological approach that combines the paradigm of cultural media studies with rigorous social-scientific research. It also makes this study comprehensive and able to triangulate its results into these different levels, thereby offering a multidimensional picture of how these digital media startups push the boundaries of journalism and also provide new ways of engaging the audience with the news.
Date:1 Jan 2019 →  31 Dec 2022
Disciplines:Digital media, Media research methodology, Political economy of communication, Journalism studies, Media discourse reception, Media sociology