Toward a Transnational Information Ecology on the Right? Hyperlink Networking among Right-Wing Digital News Sites in Europe and the United States

Heft, Annett; Knüpfer, Curd; Reinhardt, Susanne; Mayerhöffer, Eva
The International Journal of Press/Politics

The recent rise of a more transnationally networked political right across Europe and the United States has been accompanied by an emerging alternative digital news infrastructure through which information circulates and shared epistemologies are established. This paper examines the extent to which digital news sites on the right are interconnected within and across countries. It further explores which additional sites serve as transnationally shared reference points of such news ecology on a transnational scale. To do so, we investigate hyperlink networks between alternative right-wing online news sites (RNS) in six western democracies (Austria, Germany, United States, United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden). Our analysis draws on hyperlink data harvested from 65 RNS for three months in 2018. The results show that RNS do establish interlinked alternative right-wing news ecologies, as they connect to likeminded RNS within and across borders. Furthermore, we see substantial variation across countries, where RNS from countries with less established alternative right-wing news infrastructure are more likely to link transnationally to RNS. The United States represents an outlier in that it features the largest and domestically most integrated network of RNS, while U.S. sites function as hubs for transnational connections from European RNS. Apart from connections between RNS, we find that legacy news media are crucial transnationally shared reference points. We conclude that rather than presenting an insulated, alternative sphere, the emerging digital news ecology on the right seeks to link up to the broader information environment across borders.