Media bias is an issue that rarely escapes our attention these days. It matters little whether one picks up a local publication or a larger city newspaper.
Even in personal conversations in which a topic comes up, a likely reaction on the subject may arise. “Consider the source.” “I don’t give much credit to that rag.” “All news media are liberal and biased.”
Patent attorney Vanessa Otero, frustrated by her efforts to restore sanity in searching out credible newsworthy information, began to compile a chart, creating a useful tool for anyone who shared her frustration.
To read the latest story, check out this report by Shawn Langlois, “How biased is your news source? You probably won’t agree with this chart.” April 21, 2018 (Marketwatch.com, Economy & Politics, in one Chart).
For those who prefer to use Facebook, check out Vanessa Otero’s post showing the chart, version 3.0. Or go to www.allgeneralizationsarefalse.com/?p=65
In her well-researched chart, all media find its place in the maze. On the left side at the top, they are classified based on their level of fact gathering and reporting, and categorized whether they are merely reporting facts, offering complex or simple analysis, offering an opinion or fair persuasion, or are selective in giving an incomplete story, which gives rise to an unfair perspective.
On the bottom of the chart are sources that are mostly propaganda, containing misleading information, or downright inaccurate or fabricated information.
All media are placed in one of four rectangular boxes, reflecting the level of integrity, whether they are news (Green), fair interpretations of the news (Yellow), unfair interpretations of the news (Orange) and reflect nonsense and are damaging to public discourse (Red).
At the top of the chart, labels range from most extreme liberal to most extreme conservative.
I give this detailed synopsis in order to fairly represent the chart’s design, which by the way, is my way of responding to accusations of bias in the media.
On the liberal side of things, media such as Occupy Democrats, Patribotics, Palmer Report, David Wolfe and Forward Progressives lay claim to the nether regions within the red rectangle, mostly containing inaccurate or outright fabricated information.
But wait, conservative media like Infowars, Breitbart, Conservative Tribune, The Blaze, Red State, Daily Caller and Fox News Dailywire live there as well.
They all are no more credible than the older, well-known rags, such as the National Enquirer and Natural News.
In the orange box, left leaning media like The Huffington Post, New Republic, BuzzFeed News, Daily Kos and Alternet share space with right-wing media, The Federalist, One America News Network, The Drudge Report, the New York Post and Daily Mail, which hovers between the red box and orange boxes.
In the yellow box, left leaning media are The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Nation, Slate, The Intercept, Vox, Daily Beast, Vanity Fair, Mic, Mother Jones, and MSNBC.
Reflecting more slightly liberal, yet closer to neutral in their bias are the Guardian while The Washington Post hovers between the yellow and green boxes. On the right leaning bias meter, FP and The Economist occupy space, while Time and The Fiscal Times hovers between the yellow and green boxes.
Reflecting a more conservative to hyper-partisan conservative view in the yellow box are the National Review, the weekly Standard, Reason.com, Washington Examiner, The American Conservative and The Washington Times.
Finally, in the green box, on the left-leaning side, local newspapers in “liberal cities,” Politico, Axios, The New York Times are there. On the right-leaning side, “local newspapers in conservative cities” and The Hill are there. Closer to the middle, yet expressing some yet minimal bias are AP, Reuters, Bloomberg, AFP, NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, PBS, The Christian Science Monitor, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and NPR round out the media entities.
This is not an exhaustive study reflecting scientific data, but it is a starting point to consider when reading or watching media from any perspective.
That said, I have many friends who by profession are journalists reporting on the national and regional level. Many are admittedly reporting in the field of agriculture, but they nevertheless are trained to engage in fact-based reporting, of finding out all available facts prior to going public with the story.
Sara Wyant, though not a personal friend, also reflects the incredible ability to get at the heart of any important story, whether it begins in the nation’s heartland or the nation’s capital.
So, why is there all this attention to this complex issue which will not go away? One reason: sensationalized stories grabs our attention and we automatically believe it is true.
One question must be addressed: Do you really know this story is true? If we do not know the five components necessary in reporting a story, we haven’t enough evidence: who, what, when, where and why. Plus, it is not enough to just know the details, and to have it corroborated by independent sources and eyewitnesses.