Know your sources

What do you know about your favorite news sources? Do you turn only to those reflecting your views? Do you look for opposing views? How biased or neutral is your favorite source?

With the red-hot extremes in America today, it’s important to know truth from propaganda and lies. Critical readers will look for unbiased reporting and recognize commentary and editorializing for what they are — personal opinion. It’s also useful to know what the other side is thinking.

This January 2021 chart from Ad Fontes Media shows where most news sources fall on the bias and reliability spectrums (although one must also wonder about bias at Ad Fontes in producing this chart). There is an interactive chart on the Ad Fontes website that includes more sources and can be used to enlarge and separate the items on this static image.

For what it’s worth, I’ve started looking in on NewsNation. They are only a few months old and their stated mission is to present fact-based, unbiased news. We shall see.

22 thoughts on “Know your sources

  1. I’ve been following the Media Bias Chart over the last five years or so. It’s a great tool. I stick with the middle ground, leaning left or right. Thanks for spreading the word!!

  2. Your Media Bias Chart is a very helpful tool. Thanks for rising the consciousness to reflect what kind of news you see and hear and why you choose it. We are listening to the British BBC, the German TV Zweites Programm and the Norwegian WG and Dagbladet. The difference is amazing. We think it’s very important to choose different sources for your information, preferably from different countries.
    Anyway, thanks for your post.
    All the best.
    Stay healthy and happy
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    1. They should produce a chart of European media so we Americans could better choose among those sources. (I always wonder how the rest of the world sees us.) But I’m glad you find this useful for browsing American news sources.

      1. I taught for some years at the McGill University/Montreal and saw the US media from there. A very critical look. Here in Europe, intellectuals hardly ever look at US media, they have such a bad reputation that nobody bothers. In Scandinavia as well as in the EU countries you hardly ever find US media quoted – or it’s for negative reasons.
        Sorry, but even before Trump the US media had a bad reputation.
        I am privatising and have enough time to look at many sources I am able to read. And I am interested in prejudices – those concerning the US and the different structure of prejudices in Europe and the US.

          1. In a way it’s not that different in the UK and the EU. But you still have decent papers here like THE GUARDIAN in Englamd, DIE ZEIT in Germany and SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG etc. and the big TV stations run by the government informing quite differentiated. News is no show biz in Europe.

        1. I grew up watching my parents read The Guardian and the Christian Science Monitor. So I’ve routinely checked those and the BBC. So much US news is simply a repeat of what AP, UPI, and Reuters produce that I look to them for the less-diluted, original stories. Every retelling inevitably introduces some twist, however unintentional. Even just editing for length can introduce a type of bias.

          You’re right about the show biz. Most of our big name news outlets are in a race to gain the biggest audience shares (more readers or listeners mean more advertising dollars) … or exist primarily to espouse particular political views. Being first with a story is often more important to them than being right.

          Such are the weeds we all confront when searching for the truth.

          1. Well, basically there is the question if something like “the truth” exists. Every published (and spoken) word is a meaning about something. I think it’s important to make sure on the basis of which ideology (like L. Althusser understoot it) we are judging. When we write in black-and-white we are on the side of populism.

  3. I know one thing for sure about journalism bias: the presidency of Trump damaged it, perhaps permanently. That he was able to convince about 40% of the people that main-stream reporters are the “enemy of the people” is astounding, but it happened. He had help from the internet and social media of course, which is why this is unlikely to be reversible. The only solution I can see is to espouse a liberal (little L) education for everyone, a long slog but a worthy goal.

  4. Had to laugh. The chart is intriguing but the first thing I thought was who made the chart and what is their criteria – and then you said the same.
    The halt to education is a real concern going forward – public school shaky even before COVID. Now the students most at risk – the poorest – are being hurt even more. They think some 3 million students are not getting any education for one reason of another. Without an educated population, government and everything changes.
    Wish all the states would give their state or standardized tests quickly merely to get a baseline and see what needs to be shored up where. Might be a good idea to cut to bare bones core teaching – you know basic math facts, reading, spelling, solid writing (grammar and spelling) then add in geography and facts only based history for both US ands World ( you know this happened on this date here with this person/people – without any emotional/political analysis – that can/must come after core knowledge internalized.)
    But none of this will happen if the parents aren’t on board insisting the kids must show up and do the work….and so many parents are struggling with keeping life basics covered right now.
    At least if schools are open, kids can get fed 2+ meals a day helping parents a great deal.

    1. Ad fontes has a detailed explanation on their site of exactly how they derive their ratings.

      Education seems to have fallen through the cracks this year — along with everything else. Educators are doing their best to keep things going, but you can’t blame them for not wanting to get or spread Covid. And not all homes have internet or tech savvy. And virtual classes certainly don’t provide any meals. In the last week or so here they’ve started vaccinating teachers, so maybe schools will soon be opening. My granddaughter was supposed to return to the classroom last week, but has been sick (not Covid). It’s a county by county thing in Colorado.

  5. A few of my friends and I are fortunate never to accept propaganda and rhetoric at face value. There’s an old saying: Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. We see it in every day life, which means, in a microcosm, it stands in a macrocosm. When parents don’t correct their children, allow them to make excuses, they continue a growing life of errors. When we forget, are miseducated, and believe in media propaganda, we will not seek the truth, and in not seeking the truth, become enslaved in thought and life like The Matrix. My true friends and I think for ourselves, read, research, and observe, for the lessons are right in front of us and in books and real history. But all too many have become lazy in our minds, finding it easier to blame and make excuses, put out our hands for paltry hand-outs, and lose everything. Then, we condemn our children to a terrible fate. But hopes are always that a few wake up and are able to educate others to thinking for themselves, with responsibility. **Read Louis La’Mour, Nate Shiransky, the Federalist Papers, Mark Twain, Socrates without Plato’s remake, John Locke, and many others. Once starting down the trail, in earnest, you never can close your eyes and will continue to see. That’s good for everyone.

    1. Education, education, education. Too many kids learn wrong or extreme ideas from their parents, and those ideas get passed down through generations. Education, introducing different viewpoints, critical thinking, etc., can break that cycle. But it has to start early.

      1. But I would not recommend the current state of public education. I would rather the parents be responsible, however mistaken some of them might be, than a concerted propaganda campaign to disinform, rewrite history, and separate families in thought while also rewriting common sense and decency. I have discovered, the moment someone thinks they have the answers for everyone, control is ultimately behind the motivation. For instance, I would rather a young person learning from mistakes than getting him/her to think only from what I say, but he/she must also face the consequences of his/her mistakes and be held responsible.

... and that's my two cents