Different Spirals of Sameness: A Study of Content Sharing in Mainstream and Alternative Media

  • Benjamin D. Horne Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Jeppe Nørregaard Technical University of Denmark
  • Sibel Adalı Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


In this paper, we analyze content sharing between news sources in the alternative and mainstream media using a dataset of 713K articles and 194 sources. We find that content sharing happens in tightly formed communities, and these communities represent relatively homogeneous portions of the media landscape. Through a mix-method analysis, we find several primary content sharing behaviors. First, we find that the vast majority of shared articles are only shared with similar news sources (i.e. same community). Second, we find that despite these echo-chambers of sharing, specific sources, such as The Drudge Report, mix content from both mainstream and conspiracy communities. Third, we show that while these differing communities do not always share news articles, they do report on the same events, but often with competing and counter-narratives. Overall, we find that the news is homogeneous within communities and diverse in between, creating different spirals of sameness.