Junk Food and Junk News: The Case for “Information Fitness”

We, as humans, have basic needs for several things. One of them is food. Another is information. We are always, by necessity and want, taking in both. It’s fair to say we even love both food and information. But we also, as humans, have a propensity for indulging in too much of a good thing to the point that we turn it into a bad thing. It’s easy for us to develop bad habits around any of our basic needs. This is especially true when indulging provides some kind of instant gratification but long-term damage. I submit that generally, our ...Read more

By |2019-03-27T15:26:12+00:00June 27th, 2018|All, Media Bias|32 Comments

Part 2 of 4: Why Measuring Political Bias is So Hard, and How We Can Do It Anyway: The Media Bias Chart Horizontal Axis

Post Two of a Four-Part Series   The Media Bias Chart Horizontal Axis:   How to Define Political Bias in a Meaningful, Useful Way In part one of this series I laid out some problems with existing ways of measuring bias and outlined a proposed new methodology for rating such bias in news sources within a defined taxonomy (the horizontal axis of the Media Bias Chart). In this post, I’ll first define what the terms “partisanship” and “political bias” in this taxonomy (“partisanship” and “political bias” are used somewhat interchangeably here, though they are distinguishable in some aspects). More specifically, ...Read more

By |2018-08-28T23:15:53+00:00June 7th, 2018|All, Media Bias, Methodology|26 Comments

Part 1 of 4: Why Measuring Political Bias is So Hard, and How We Can Do It Anyway: The Media Bias Chart Horizontal Axis

Post One of a Four-Part Series The Media Bias Chart Horizontal Axis:   Part 1: Measuring Political Bias--Challenges to Existing Approaches and an Overview of a New Approach Many commentators on the Media Bias Chart have asked me (or argued with me about) why I placed a particular source in a particular spot on the horizontal axis. Some more astute observers have asked (and argued with me about) the underlying questions of “what do the categories mean?” and “what makes a source more or less politically biased?” In this series of posts I will answer these questions. In previous posts ...Read more

By |2018-08-28T23:16:07+00:00May 25th, 2018|All, Media Bias, Methodology|11 Comments

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 ...Read more

By |2018-08-29T17:14:02+00:00February 5th, 2018|All, Chart Iterations, Media Bias, Methodology|284 Comments

The Chart, Version 3.0: What, Exactly, Are We Reading?

Note: this is actually version 3.1 of The Chart. I made some minor changes from version 3.0, explained here: https://adfontesmedia.com/chart-3-1-minor-updates-based-constructive-feedback/ Summary: What’s new in this chart: I edited the categories on the vertical axis to more accurately describe the contents of the news sources ranked therein (long discussion below). I stuffed as many sources (from both version 1.0 and 2.0, plus some new ones) on here as I could, in response to all the “what about ______ source” questions I got. Now the logos are pretty tiny. If you have a request for a ranking of a particular source, let me ...Read more

By |2018-08-29T17:09:24+00:00November 8th, 2017|All, Chart Iterations, Media Bias|679 Comments

Interactive Media Bias Chart Coming Soon!

If you’ve been following along with our work on the Media Bias Chart at Ad Fontes Media, you’ve probably heard that we are coming out with an interactive, online version, backed by thousands of rankings that our team of analysts recently completed. Just wanted to let you all know that we are working hard on it in the background, and it is coming out really soon (though I can’t promise an exact date yet). As you can imagine, it’s a lot of data and web development stuff to work through. You’ll be able to view custom versions of the chart, search for ...Read more

By |2019-07-25T15:50:47+00:00July 25th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Update #3 on the Media Bias Chart Ratings Project

  We’ve just wrapped up our first major data collection effort for the next edition of the Media Bias Chart, which will be interactive! Here are some highlights of what our dedicated team of analysts, coordinators, and developers accomplished, and what’s next: Each analyst completed over four hours of training on Ad Fontes’ methodology for analyzing the content of individual news articles and TV shows. In these trainings, we covered how to account for veracity, expression, fairness, headlines, graphics, show guests, political positions, terminology, omission, and comparison. Analysts took these factors into account, but also had discretion to weigh other ...Read more

By |2019-05-26T23:58:14+00:00May 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|2 Comments

A “Hate-For Profit Racket” That is Bad for Brands: An Apt Description of Much of the Media Landscape

Yesterday, Senator Elizabeth Warren declined to appear on a town hall for Fox News, and in her explanation for why, she pointed out three salient observations about our media landscape that are key to understanding what we are trying to do at Ad Fontes Media. Even if you do not politically align with Senator Warren, and even if you don’t mind Fox News so much, you likely recognize that at least certain shows on Fox (though not all) veer into (or live in!) very low-quality/highly-biased territory. First, she called Fox News a “hate-for-profit racket,” meaning that with some of their ...Read more

By |2019-05-16T03:32:21+00:00May 16th, 2019|Uncategorized|6 Comments

NeoCortix News Aggregator Chooses Sources from the Top of the Media Bias Chart

Quite a few people have asked if there are any news aggregators or apps that just serve up the best news sources from the top of the Media Bias Chart, and I'm happy to say that now there is a great one out there! We didn't make it, but we really like it. NeoCortix News is a free app and recently became available in the Apple App Store and Google Play. They describe it best on this section of their site, which explains how they choose sources based on the Media Bias Chart: "The purpose of Neocortix News is to ...Read more

By |2019-05-07T03:38:57+00:00May 7th, 2019|Uncategorized|1 Comment

The Mueller Report Headlines Across the Spectrum: How Junk News and Bias Keeps Us In Parallel Universes

For your convenience, here are website headlines from across the media landscape from this morning, the day after the full (redacted) Mueller Report was released. Most people don't visit 40 news sites about one story to compare bias and quality, but that's one of the things we do here, so we hope it helps you get a better sense of the universe of reporting. Speaking of universes, one of the most revealing things about this exercise is the disheartening realization that people who read all their news from sources having significant bias live in a completely different universe from those ...Read more

By |2019-04-21T18:06:49+00:00April 19th, 2019|Uncategorized|2 Comments

The Media Bias Chart Content Ratings Research Project

Ad Fontes Media is proud to announce its first extensive multi-analyst content ratings research project! Since the first Media Bias Chart was launched, people have been asking for more data and transparency about the news source ratings. Within the next two weeks, we are kicking off a project to provide exactly that. During this project, we will be performing ratings of nearly 2,000 individual articles and TV news shows, which will be conducted by 20 dedicated, trained analysts having political viewpoints from across the spectrum. Once the research project is completed, we will publish the results via an interactive version ...Read more

By |2019-02-16T22:21:13+00:00February 16th, 2019|Uncategorized|4 Comments

When Negative Coverage Is Not Necessarily Biased Coverage

A common complaint of President Trump and others in the GOP is that a high percentage of media coverage of him is “negative.” The official GOP Twitter account often tweets about this, sometimes citing a statistic from a Harvard study stating that over 90% of media coverage of Trump is negative. This, the President and his allies complain, is evidence of bias. In this post I argue that “negative” coverage itself isn’t necessarily “biased,” and is often perfectly fair. However, it is often easy to confuse negativity and bias, and it is similarly easy for them to overlap within the ...Read more

By |2019-02-03T00:38:46+00:00February 3rd, 2019|Uncategorized|5 Comments

The big BuzzFeed News story and how it impacts its ranking on the Media Bias Chart

BuzzFeed News just came out with a big story entitled "President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen to Lie to Congress About the Moscow Project," which has been disputed by the Special Counsel's office. Whenever a single major news org reports a big, exclusive, consequential story, which is not shortly verified by other major outlets, it is best to reserve judgment on its veracity for about a week. Other news outlets (i.e., BuzzFeed’s competitors and colleagues) are doing the work to find out exactly what happened. This is the great thing about the media ecosystem—everything is instantly peer reviewed. This ...Read more

By |2019-01-19T21:59:04+00:00January 19th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Do You Want to Be an Analyst for the Media Bias Chart?

Are you interested in becoming an analyst for the Media Bias Chart Project? We are currently recruiting analysts for the next phase of the project, which will run for about 10 weeks in early 2019. Applications are due December 8, 2018, at 11:59 pm MST. We are looking for a diverse group of individuals with differing political views to be part of our team. The main qualifications we are looking for are 1) excellent reading comprehension skills 2) excellent analytical skills, and 3) in-depth knowledge of contemporary US political issues. Analysts will be paid as independent contractors, and will receive ...Read more

By |2018-12-01T20:50:48+00:00December 1st, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

2018 Midterms: Headlines from Across the Spectrum. “What happened” is one thing; “What it means” is another

Day-after-election coverage is especially useful for differentiating news content on both the quality and bias metrics. This is because election stories are naturally full of concrete facts--who won, who lost, where, and by how much. Further, the facts by themselves are fairly easy for most people to interpret without having someone else analyze them and give you their take on what they mean. Winning is generally good, and flipping a seat is even better. Losing is generally bad, and having your seat flipped is worse. Winning by more than expected, or losing by less than expected, are also good--everyone can ...Read more

By |2018-11-08T05:32:39+00:00November 8th, 2018|Uncategorized|4 Comments
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