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 who read more neutral sources, and a completely different (and further away) universe from those who read from sources having the opposite significant political bias. Junk news (by which we mean anything falling in the hyper-partisan (-18 to +18) and beyond categories, and anything below 40 on our quality scale) mostly serves to satisfy people’s craving to be right and confirm their existing beliefs.

A unique aspect of the Mueller Report story is that the primary source of it is available to everyone, and because of its written report format, fairly constitutes both “the center” and the highest standard for “original fact reporting.” That is, you could actually place the report itself at the top middle of the chart. This is not the case with all stories. The most neutral, fact reporting journalism about this would be a news source providing a copy of the report, which many of these sources, to their credit, have done today.

From there, the degree to which outlets select facts to report, and what context to provide about them, indicates various levels of quality and bias.

In Ad Fontes Media’s methodology, the main criteria for the quality ranking is the Expression scale, which ranks statements on a scale of 1-5 (1: expressed as fact, 2: expressed as fact/analysis, 3: expressed as analysis, 4: expressed as analysis/opinion, and 5: expressed as opinion). This is hard for most people to evaluate, but two key indicators are 1) the sheer number or percentage of incontrovertible facts (i.e. “___ happened”), and 2) how closely a conclusion is tied to a fact (i.e., if the conclusion is the fact, it is a “1” and if the conclusion is only very loosely tied to any facts, it is a “5.”)

These are in alphabetical order, so it may be helpful to have the Media Bias Chart pulled up in another window to see where the sources fall. Know your news.

(Note: If you can’t see the name of the source, or you want to see it bigger, you can click on the image to show you the name, and click on it again to see it bigger)


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

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Many thanks for doing this important work!

Marian Wiggins
Marian Wiggins

You’ve laid the groundwork here for some very serious discussions between friends, amongst family members and within discussion groups. Thank you, Vanessa, for this much-needed service you’re providing.

We are working hard on the Media Bias Chart project, and will have new updates to it soon. Don’t miss the latest versions!

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