Young, free and biased: A comparison of mainstream and right-wing media coverage of the 2015–16 refugee crisis in German newspapers

Gerret von Nordheim, Henrik Müller, Michael Scheppe


Right-wing media have been growing in terms of readership and impact in recent years. However, comparative analyses that gauge linkages between mainstream and rightwing media in Europe are virtually missing. We pursued an algorithm-based topic-modelling analysis of 11,420 articles concerning the question of whether reporting of the leading German right-wing newspaper Junge Freiheit differed from that of mainstream media outlets in the context of the refugee crisis of 2015–16. The results strongly support this notion. They show a clear-cut dichotomy with mainstream mediaon one side and Junge Freiheit on the other. A time lag could be found, pointing to a reporting pattern that positioned Junge Freiheit relative to the journalistic and political mainstream. Thus, Junge Freiheit can be characterised as a ‘reactive’ alternative media outlet that is prone to populism: it stresses the national dimension of the crisis, embraces the positions of the right-wing party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and largely neglects complex international, and particularly European, implications.


Alternative media, comparative analysis, Junge Freiheit, LDA, populism, refugee crisis, right-wing media

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