Blog2021-04-22T11:40:27-06:00

Ad Fontes Media Resource Center

An Exercise for Bias Detection

A great exercise to train your bias-detecting skills is to check on a high volume of outlets –say, eight to ten--across the political spectrum in the 6-12 hours right after a big political story breaks. I did this right after the release of the Nunes memo on Friday, Feb 2. This particular story provided an especially good occasion for comparison across sites for several reasons, including: -It was a big political story, so nearly everyone covered it. It’s easier to compare bias when each source is covering the same story. -The underlying story is fact-dense, meaning that a lot of [...]

By |February 5th, 2018|18 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 [...]

By |February 5th, 2018|289 Comments

Observations on The Chart by Law Professor Maxwell Stearns of U. Maryland

Law professor Maxwell Stearns, who blogs about law, politics, and culture, recently published this post about the chart, which has several useful insights about 1) distilling the ranking criteria into sub-categories, 2) why the sources on the chart form a bell curve, 3) how the rankings might be made more scientifically. Give it a read! https://www.blindspotblog.us/single-post/2017/11/18/The-Viral-Media-Graphic-with-special-thanks-to-Vanessa-Otero

By |November 19th, 2017|14 Comments

Everybody has an Opinion on CNN

I get the most feedback by far on CNN, and, in comparison to feedback on other sources on the chart, CNN is unusual because I get feedback that it should be moved in all the different directions (up, down, left, and right). Further, most people who give me feedback on other sources suggest that I should just nudge a source one way or another a bit. In contrast, many people feel very strongly that CNN should be moved significantly in the direction they think. I believe there are a couple of main reasons I am getting this kind of feedback. [...]

By |November 17th, 2017|17 Comments

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

Note: this is actually version 3.1 of The Chart. Learn more about the minor changes I made from version 3.0. 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 [...]

By |November 8th, 2017|682 Comments

Not “Fake News,” But Still Awful for Other Reasons:  Analysis of Two Examples from The Echo Chambers This Week

The term “fake news” is problematic for a number of reasons, one of which is that it is widely used to mean anything from “outright hoax” to “some information I do not like.” Therefore, I refrain from using the term to describe media sources at all. Besides that, I refrain from discussing the term because I submit that the biggest problem in our current media landscape is not “hoax” stories that could legitimately be called “fake news.” What is far more damaging to our civic discourse are articles and stories that are mostly, or even completely, based on the truth, [...]

By |October 30th, 2017|14 Comments

Top Six Red Flags that Identify a Conspiracy Theory Article

These rhetorical patterns are common to many conspiracy theories. Learn to identify them and sharpen your critical thinking skills. It can be tough to see your social media friend sharing conspiracy theory stories, and tough to respond to them effectively. Pointing it out and saying "that's a conspiracy theory" doesn't seem to be effective. But there are certain writing patterns and tropes that are common within such articles that make them compelling to some people. Sometimes, just pointing out patterns and tropes helps people see them for what they are.  

By |October 10th, 2017|8 Comments

The Chart, Version 2.0: What Makes A News Source “Good?”

In my original news chart, I wrestled with the questions of what made news sources “good” and came up with some categories that generally resonated with people. I ranked sources on a vertical axis with those at the top ranked as “high quality” and those at the bottom as “low quality.” I characterized the sources, from top to bottom, in this order: Complex, Analytical, Meets High Standards, Basic, and Sensational/ Clickbait. This mostly works, because it results in sources regarded as high-brow or classy (e.g., The Atlantic, The Economist) being ranked high on the axis, and trashy sources (e.g., [...]

By |August 18th, 2017|37 Comments

The Chart, Version 1.0: Original Reasoning and Methodology

tl;dr: There are lots of reasons. Many are subjective. More data would make it better. I am not a media expert. Since my News Quality graphic got widely shared, I have been asked what my inspiration, methodology, and process was for creating it. I note that I have been asked this question by academics, journalists, and laypersons that care about accuracy and quality. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t care about accuracy and quality. And a lot of those same people don’t like to read. Why I Created It I am frustrated by the reality that people don’t like [...]

By |December 19th, 2016|117 Comments

News Quality

We are living in a time where we have more information available to each of us than ever before in history. However, we are not all proficient at distinguishing between good information and bad information. This is true for liberal, moderate, and conservative people. I submit that these two circumstances are highly related to why our country is so politically polarized at the moment. Why is it that I can have such different views on the same subject or topic as someone else who lives in the same country? Take the polarizing example of people's opinions on Hillary. Why [...]

By |December 12th, 2016|82 Comments