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 sources, sort by media type, drill down on each source and see individual article ratings, view reach data, and much more!
In addition, we’ll have an extensive write-up about our ranking project, which will discuss how we conducted it, what insights the data shows us, what we’ve learned, and how we plan to iterate and improve it in the future.
We’re also redesigning the site (including making it accessible for the visually impaired), developing more resources for educators, and creating products for making our ranking data useful to all stakeholders in good journalism. Needless to say, our team is working really hard, and we appreciate your patience and hope you like what we come out with.
In the meantime, we love hearing from you about your requests for sources you would like to see ranked and features you would like to see on the chart, so keep them coming! We see them and add them to our list as they come in.
For those of you who love diving into the taxonomic details of the chart, keep reading.
I want to provide you a preview of one thing we’re changing on the Media Bias Chart. Existing versions have referred to the vertical axis as “Overall Quality,” but we’re changing that to what we think is a more accurate description, which is “Overall Reliability.” It’s a subtle, but important distinction.
This description is more accurate because the ultimate question we are trying to answer by placing sources on the vertical axis is, very specifically, this:
“What sources can I best rely on to be most widely, deeply, and truthfully informed about things that are important to me, my community, my state, my country, and my world?”
Another way to look at this question is to ask “what sources should a young person, or a person new to this country who is unfamiliar with the news landscape rely on to be most widely, deeply, and truthfully informed?”
This is a question that can only be answered by analyzing the content of the news itself, which is what we do. Sometimes the size or the reach of the source can impact how reliable it is. For example, sources with more journalists tend to be able to provide more reliable news, but that doesn’t always necessarily correlate. Some really large organizations provide an outsized proportion of opinion, analysis, and fluff, while some small local outlets provide highly reliable news on a regular basis.
The question of “reliability” is different that the question of “quality,” because sources can be high quality for other reasons even if they aren’t the most “reliable” ones from which to get news.
For example, some publications have really amazing levels of quality of analysis, opinion, or even humor, so they certainly have value in the media landscape. They may just be less “reliable,” and in the sense that they may be narrowly focused on a few topics and viewpoints, and therefore don’t provide a very wide or deep view of all the news, which ranks them lower. Of course, the less truthful a source is, the lower it is in quality and reliability, so the change from the term “quality” to “reliability” doesn’t signify a difference in that regard.
We’re always striving to improve this resource, so look out for this and more on the interactive version!