Media Bias Chart, 3.1 Minor Updates Based on Constructive Feedback

So why is it time for another update to the Media Bias Chart? I’m a strong believer in changing one’s mind based on new information. That’s how we learn anyway, and I wish people would do it more often. I think it would lead to nicer online discussions and less polarization in our politics. Perhaps people don’t “change their minds based on new information” as much as they should because it is often framed more negatively as “admitting you are wrong.” I don’t particularly mind admitting I’m wrong.

In any event, I’m making some minor updates to the Media Bias Chart, corrections, and improvements based on feedback I’ve gotten. I’ve been fortunate to hear from many of you thoughtful observers out there, and I’m so grateful that so many of you care about the subject of ranking quality and bias.

The Media Bias Chart Updates

Here are the changes for version 3.1. I’m calling it 3.1 because they are mostly minor changes. I got quite a bit of feedback on these topics in particular.

  • The middle column now says “Neutral: Minimal Partisan Bias OR Balance of Biases.” I moved away from the term “Mainstream” because that term is so loaded as to be useless to some audiences. Also, there are some sources that are not really minimally biased or truly neutral; some have extreme stuff from both political sides.
  • The horizontal categories have been updated slightly in our Media Bias Chart. The “skew conservative” and “skew liberal” categories no longer have the parenthetical comment “(but still reputable),” mostly because the term “reputable” has more to do with quality on the vertical axis, and I’m doing my best not to conflate the two. The “hyper-partisan conservative” and “hyper-partisan liberal” categories no longer have the parenthetical comments “(expressly promotes views),” mostly because “promoting views” is not the only characteristic that makes something hyper-partisan. Finally, the outermost liberal and conservative “utter garbage/conspiracy theories” categories are now re-labeled “most extreme liberal/conservative.” This is, again, because the terms “utter garbage” and “conspiracy theories,” though often accurate for sources in those columns, has more to do with quality than partisanship.

What has moved?

I am writing a separate post that more specifically defines the horizontal axis and the criteria for ranking sources within them. It’s a pretty complex topic, and I’ll discuss many additional points frequently raised by those of you who have commented. I will likely have more revisions accompanying that post.

  • I have moved Natural News from the extreme left to slightly right. I know this may still cause some consternation among commentators that note correctly that they have a lot of extreme right wing political content. However, after categorizing dozens of articles over several sample days and counting how many fell in each category, the breakdown looked like this: About a third fell in the range of “skew liberal” to “extreme liberal” (in terms of promoting anti-corporate and popular liberal pseudo-science positions), another third were relatively politically neutral “health news,” and about a third fell into the extreme conservative bucket. There wasn’t much that fell into the “skew conservative” or “hyper-partisan conservative” categories. So even though the balance was 1/3, 1/3, 1/3, left, center, right, the 1/3 on the right was almost all “most extreme conservative,” so that pushed the overall source rank to the right. For those who are still unhappy and think it should be moved further right, take consolation in the fact that it is still at the bottom vertically, and to an extent, it doesn’t matter how partisan the junk news is as long as you still know it’s junk.
  • I removed US Uncut, because as some of you correctly pointed out, that site is now defunct.
  • I removed Al-Jazeera from the top middle, but not because I don’t think it’s a mostly reputable news source. I removed it for two reasons.

Al-Jazeera Explained

  1. First, many people are unclear on what I am referring to as Al-Jazeera. It is a very large international media organization based out of Qatar, (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Jazeera), but it is not a very popular source for news to Americans. Americans who are familiar with it could assume that I am referring to Al-Jazeera English (a sister channel), or Al-Jazeera America (a short-lived US organization (2013-2016) which arguably leaned left), or AJ+ (a channel that provides explanatory videos on Facebook and also arguably leans left). I do think these are worth including in the Media Bias Chart, but I will differentiate them before including them in future versions. What I meant originally was the main Al-Jazeera site that is in English, which covers mostly international news, and which I consider a generally high quality and reputable source.
  2. Second , it is somewhat controversial because it is funded by the government of Qatar, and it has been accused of bias as it pertains to Middle East politics. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it is disreputable, or that its ownership results in stories that are biased to the left or right on the US political spectrum. However, I have only two other non-US sources on the Media Bias Chart—the BBC and DailyMail—which both have significant enough coverage of US politics that you can discern bias on the US spectrum. I don’t have any other internationally sources on the Media Bias Chart, and none that are primarily funded by a non-democratic government (the BBC is funded by the British public, NPR is publicly and privately funded in the US). Until I can specify which articles I have rated to form the basis for Al-Jazeerza’s placement, I’m going to leave it off.

Thanks for the comments so far, and please keep them coming. I appreciate your suggestions for how to make this work better and your requests for what you want to see in the future.

By |2018-08-29T17:14:02+00:00February 5th, 2018|All, Chart Iterations, Media Bias, Methodology|239 Comments

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Tish Signet
Guest

This is such an excellent tool, and thanks for your continuing to update and refine the important process.

Lisa
Guest
Lisa

Hi! Love this list – great idea. Could you consider adding the Chicago Tribune, LA Times, The Atlantic, and McClatchy News? Thanks!

Justin Grays
Guest

Oh, the Atlantic! I should have thought about that one! Nice.

Ken Rhines
Guest
Ken Rhines

Solid changes. I’ve enjoyed following your logical thought processes as you’ve revised your axes and the criteria for each. Removing the parenthetical comments makes sense, as does changing “mainstream” to “neutral”. I don’t think most folks care too much about Natural News –I’d never heard of it myself, and after going to the site backed away sloooowly– but moving a site from “liberal” to “conservative” raises a question about definitions. Do you have definitions you can share? I tend to think of liberal as more socialist and statist, and conservative as more capitalistic and individualist. But it might be helpful… Read more »

Mike Steffen
Guest
Mike Steffen

How about just using the terms “left “and “right”?

Awesome job with the chart. A picture is worth a thousand words….

Gigi
Guest
Gigi

Thanks! That helps!

What about RT? Russian TV? It’s not on the chart. Pls advice 🙂

Fyrna
Guest
Fyrna

Hi! Would you mind shifting the key up a little so the descriptions of the boxes line up a bit better with the boxes themselves? Thanks!

Max Thibodeaux
Guest
Max Thibodeaux

Great changes. It’s good to see that you’re refining your lexicon with greater precision and a more business-like tone. I think it lends additional credibility to your work.

D L
Guest
D L

Wtf no YOUNG TURKS?? How they’re the largest online show ever.. 10 billion views total. Ridiculous…

lol
Guest
lol

There aren’t even 10 billion people on the planet…

Kathy
Guest
Kathy

Views is not the same as viewers…total is accumulated views of all their videos…one person might watch 3 videos every day. But lets say 1 person watches 3 videos/day (the live newscast plus a couple side stories/opinion pieces) x 1million followers. (Nowhere near their following of all their channels). Over the course of just one year, that alone would be a little over 1 billion views.

Kathy
Guest
Kathy

Agree! There are huge…uber liberal

Robert
Guest
Robert

How do you define “liberal” and “conservative”?

Also, your comment about AJ is spot on. I read AJ every day. They have excellent articles and good coverage of things that often get overlooked by US news sources. (Same with RT. Some RT articles are absurdly biased, but I pretend I can tell when that is the case.)

Patti Jenkins
Guest
Patti Jenkins

What about the Brookings Institute?

Roberto Burrito
Guest
Roberto Burrito

You might consider using a barbell shape for sites like Natural News.

Rich Brown
Guest

I was surprised to see The Hill on the “skews conservative” column – I had always considered it to be in a mirror position on the skews liberal column. But thanks for this great resource.

Ian
Guest
Ian

The position of The Hill has always been my biggest gripe with this chart (except for the fact that the Washington Post should be down by Buzzfeed).

Carlin
Guest
Carlin

Yes I agree.

Rich Brown
Guest

With version 3.1, it looks as if The Chart is going to continue to receive updates over time. (This is great!) Here are a couple thoughts for helping new readers and repeat visitors understand what they’re seeing. 1) “All Generalizations Are False” (https://adfontesmedia.com/) should bring people to the current version of the chart (it does) with a headline that reflects the current version (I was confused that it says “3.0” today.) 2) That page should have an introductory paragraph about what The Chart represents, and details of how to interpret it. This is a good presentation for new readers of… Read more »

Bob Branstrom
Guest
Bob Branstrom

“I don’t particularly mind admitting I’m wrong.” How refreshing.

Thanks for the earlier version and the updates. Intelligence and civil dialogue still have a chance.

El Tiburon
Guest
El Tiburon

The fact that Fox is where it is but MSNBC is where it is shows your own bias.

Cassie Troy
Guest

This is awesome and I’m glad to see the update to the update. Thank you!

Including Salon.com might be a thing. It seems to want to belong in the vicinity of Alternet and Daily KOS. I see links to articles posted there often enough to justify a placement. I find that about half the time, they’re reproducing articles posted elsewhere (with incomplete linking back to the source). Frustrating at best.

Excellent work. Thanks for continuing to improve and adjust as needed.

HRH GJR4
Guest
HRH GJR4

Excellent posts and excellent feedback, Vanessa. I felt compelled to find the source of this chart after seeing it on social media a few times. Good work. I wanted to comment on Natural News. I first saw it on the left, and felt that was misplaced, because the majority of it comes from the conspiracy monger who runs it, Mike Adams. Mike Adams is as right-wing, and as nutty, as Alex Jones from Infowars. He was histrionic about Obama being president, and consistently posts very conservative social views on race and LGBQT issues. He’s even an HIV causes AIDS denialist.… Read more »

Fraser Allison
Guest

Really interesting project on an important topic. I particularly love how you’ve detailed your methodology. I’d hesitate to give unsolicited advice when you’ve done so much work already, but since you’ve asked, I do have a couple of reactions that I hope are helpful. Please forgive the length! Trying to “show my working” rather than just give my opinion. 1. I’m surprised to see Jacobin above and only barely to the left of the Atlantic and Vox. Jacobin articles are in-depth, but their style is consistently “narrative” and activist. Jacobin takes a clear position defined by its ideological pole and… Read more »

Turar
Guest
Turar

Hi Vanessa, is it possible to publish raw data that you used to come up with the chart? E.g. the sentence by sentence scoring you talked about?

Iris
Guest
Iris

Are you planning to include details pertaining to ownership of the different sources? I believe this is also an important aspect of bias and vested interests.

Thank you for creating, maintaining and continuing to improve this superb resource. I also appreciate how you take on-board constructive feedback and suggestions from others. You rock! : )

guim
Guest
guim

I’m wondering where the Chicago Tribune would be on the chart?

Doug Painter
Guest
Doug Painter

This is an excellent tool, thank you! However, I would urge you to reconsider your dropping of Al Jazeera English and to please return that organization to the chart. The network is esteemed in Europe and has a significant online following in the U.S., winning countless awards for excellence in journalism. I watch it all the time on Roku, along with CNN and the BBC. Please do not let loud and politically motivated detractors of Al Jazeera (it was bullied by Cheney during the Bush administration) impact the neutrality and objectivity you have obviously put into this helpful project.

Andy Johnson
Guest
Andy Johnson

Let me echo Doug’s plea. I don’t know much about Al Jazeera, but every time I read a story from (one of their) sites it seemed like the most useful article I found all day. So it’s important to list it.

dcp123
Guest
dcp123

Do I win a prize because all the sources I trust are in the upper middle section? I guess it means that your analysis lines up well with who I have learned (in a less rogorous way) is worthy of my trust. You put the Economist a tad lower than I would have guessed (I’d put it right on the yellow-green border) and the Hill and Politico a higher than I might have thought, but maybe I need to give those two a bit more of a chance to proove themselves. Fundamentally, your chart does an excellent job of tellign… Read more »

Stephanie
Guest
Stephanie

So helpful! Can you include Spanish – language media?

Max Normal
Guest
Max Normal

Washington Post and The Guardian on the middle? They are screaming left!

Ob Server
Guest
Ob Server

Thanks for the great work. Could you create a version of the chart depicting the readership/viewership sizes of the sources (perhaps instead of their logos, use a size bubble). Then the chart could convey how many people are consuming news vs opinion vs nonsense. By omitting the logos, there would be less distraction — people judging your placements — that data would be available elsewhere and not detract from the new information revealed with the sizes of the source types. Of course, people consume from multiple source categories, but the information would still be useful, I think.

Daniel
Guest
Daniel

Curious why Telemundo and Univision are excluded? They are a major news source for many Americans.

John
Guest
John

Any chance of a chart that would include, RT, NNK, CCCTV, BBC, France 24, etc. Possibly your next project?

David Jacobin
Guest

I actually really hate this graphic tbh…it seems that we’re supposed to trust the sources in the top middle, but looking at them, I have no more faith in their truth-value than others, and for some of those sources up there, very much less than others (e.g. NBC News, Reuters, Bloomberg, Time, and the “local newspapers” which are usually controlled by larger media conglomerates and rich people with political ties). I just try to use google or duckduckgo and read like 5 different takes on the same thing if I hope to glean anything. No one source will get us… Read more »

David Jacobin
Guest

Sorry for being so negative!! I actually appreciate that you tried to put something together with good intention that deals with the crazy media bias that we have. Perhaps the chart would be more accurate if the “overall quality” meter was scrapped, since it’s such a case-by-case thing or if there were a vacuum at the top to indicate the lack of quality, contextual journalism in our media landscape. The sources currently at the top can be dangerous mouthpieces for government propaganda, as we saw with their coverage of “weapons of mass destruction”, “Operation Iraqi Freedom”, etc, and can sometimes… Read more »

Ben Schultz
Guest
Ben Schultz

Fascinating chart. I’d love to see some newer organizations like ThinkProgress and Media Matters on here. I think Jacobin should definitely be along the left edge (although the vertical placement in “complex analysis” should stay the same), seeing as they’re an openly socialist group and they use “liberal” as a negative term fairly often. They’re certainly more extreme than, say, Louise Mensch.

Royce
Guest
Royce

Wow, one of the shining lights in a very dark US National tunnel. Thank you. Keep it up!

Ken Ward
Guest
Ken Ward

I use Google News for my “quick 5 minute new fix” more often than any other news source. And I bet 10’s of millions of others do the same. Is it not included in your chart because it mainly consists of headlines and links to other news sources?

Del
Guest
Del

Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN all have a mixture of news and opinion programming. While it would be fair to argue that since these companies do not consistently label these programs as such you should evaluate them all together, but I would be interested in seeing where you would plot them if Fox News and Fox News Opinion and their counterparts were plotted as separate entities.

Chris Goosman
Guest
Chris Goosman

Curious to know where In These Times might fit in – I’m guessing in the same area as Huffpost.

Brian Steffen
Guest

It would be interesting to add NRATV to this list of news sources.

Grant Cooper
Guest
Grant Cooper

At first, I was a bit skeptical as to your methodology and thought you might be subject to the prevailing cult of false equivalency. However, after analyzing your chart, I believe that you have done an excellent and accurate job, which is refreshing for a subject so critical to our democracy. My only reservation might be that we all, IMHO, have moved the goalposts these days on what is considered liberal and what is considered conservative. For example, many of the issues that we currently interpret as “Hyper-Partisan Liberal” or “Extreme Liberal” might well have been “middle of the road”… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest

…or, for example, how the recent Democratic administration had been considered left when they had been echoed nearly exactly by right-leaning or moderate/center parties in Europe.

Zach
Guest
Zach

Hi Grant- The points you cited in regards to the spectrum shifting are cherry picked and have more story behind them than simply laying them down as fact. If you took into consideration the extreme Marxist movement on the far left you could make the case that the “goalposts” have moved to the left. Consider that many publicly paid University professors are currently teaching students that differing opinions should be considered hate speech and that those with differing opinions should be shut down under that guise, leading to this increasing movement of limiting free speech and closing minds which is… Read more »

K Hughes
Guest
K Hughes

This is a good visual and a good tool. I’d recommend looking at TalkingPoints Memo, an established news source with original reporting

Nyakio
Guest
Nyakio

Hi Vanessa, this is a brilliant tool, much needed in our times, and I was relieved to come across it. Please could you include an analysis of Business Insider when you are able? Many thanks

Justin
Guest

This is fantastic. Thank you for doing this. I often refer back to this when I feel that I need to check myself on the news media I’m looking at, and I encourage others to do the same. It’s especially great that you explain why you put each source where they are on the chart so that we can check on your conclusions and provide feedback. It also helps us when we are considering other media, or explaining to others why we do/don’t trust a source. I look forward to when you put Al-Jazerra back on the chart. I am… Read more »

Georgeann Van Delist
Guest
Georgeann Van Delist

Hi! Just came across your site this morning while doing some Internet surfing. The chart is great, and I wish we could implement this type of information into our daily lives as reminders that there is bias in everything. Your earlier writings look fascinating, so I plan to spend some time on your site. Keep up the good work!

Christopher Zagacki
Guest
Christopher Zagacki

Vanessa

Would VICE News not quality as a news source? I have read and seen many of their investigational pieces which I consider news worthy.

Joe Gilley
Guest
Joe Gilley

Can you rate Snopes.com? I know they are not an original news source. However, they are frequently called upon to evaluate news items and I have seen extreme-left and extreme-right sources claim they are paid by the other side in order to spread lies. Having an independent evaluation of their writings would be a good thing, in my opinion.

75338
Guest
75338

Please add Counterpunch.org

Brian Kirschner
Guest
Brian Kirschner

In general I’m very impressed with your sincere effort at genuine unbiased evaluation and don’t disagree with any of your decisions enough to make an issue about it. I do have a couple suggestions to make this more is. First, have a long press (or let click on a computer) of any logo pop up a dialog that explains your reasons for placing that source where you did including sampling methods, criteria and additional details. Second, make an adjustment based on the viewership and hours of coverage from the entertainment and news sides of Fox News. Two hours of Hannity… Read more »

Karen Molenaar Terrell
Guest

Excellent! This was really helpful to me when discussing media bias with FB friends.

Pam
Guest
Pam

Aljazeera ???
I find this chart a very useful complement to the Google news page. Keep up this good work!

Joe Gilley
Guest
Joe Gilley

The chart is getting a bit hard to read. It will get more difficult as you add more news sources. Any chance we could make a grid? 0 to 10 along a vertical axis, and A to K along the horizontal. We’d then need an alphabetical list of the sources and a reference to where they can be found on the chart. In the chart above, Palmer Report would be a 1A. The problem now is that the computer search will not find “Time” on the chart. As version 4 and above come along it will get harder and harder… Read more »

C. Biondi
Guest
C. Biondi

I am of the left, which means that is where I watchdog. Raw Story, Now This, Scott Dworkin… these are all outlets which could use a spot in the bottom-ish left.
Propaganda and generalizations must be pointed out to those who are at least interested in paying attention.

You’re doing amazing work. Thank you and keep it up!

Mike
Guest
Mike

This is a CNN (sorry) related comment. I read both the 3.1 post and your CNN post. (p.s. i was taught what/how to look for propaganda, so i use that tool to view news and here are my thoughts) I think it would benefit you in breaking up CNN into two fields, 1 CNN-Politics and the other CNN-News. I would also suggest moving CNN-Politics to align itself with Huffington Post. If you do a meta analysis of the political articles by both, you will notice that they use very similar verbiage talking about the right, or the left. I wish… Read more »

Jeff Lucich
Guest
Jeff Lucich

and yes, this is a great resource, would be great to establish a rating system that needs to be disclosed by sources… but then that would get politicized, wouldn’t it…

Joy Shayne Laughter
Guest
Joy Shayne Laughter

Hi, the investigative analysis source I turn to for skilled, informed voices that are not beholden to any “official story” is http://www.consortiumnews.com. It’s a non-profit site founded by the late Robert Parry, who was the investigative reporter that broke the Iran-Contra story.

Guest
Guest
Guest

Please rate US New and World Reports and Newsweek

Crow Esk
Guest
Crow Esk

Thank you for the tip!