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Evaluating News: "Fake News" and Beyond

A guide to evaluating news for credibility

Bias in the Media

Is all media biased? Sure. But what does this mean?

Bias does not always equal disinformation or lies.

News organizations and publications may fact check carefully, vet sources, and do their best to present the facts. A news organization can do all of this, but still show bias. Here are some of the ways media shows bias:

  • In how they characterize the facts, and the narrative they create from the facts
  • In their decisions about what facts/stories to cover
  • In the amount of time and space they use to cover facts

Some media outlets work harder than others to present a balanced perspective and constrain their bias, but even these sources can't avoid bias entirely. Here are some useful graphics that map out popular news organizations and their political biases - keep in mind that it is best to look at a variety of sources, from the right, left, and center, if you want to challenge your own biases

Two Useful Media Bias Charts:

Another good visualization of the news universe is this graphic by AllSides Media, which shows where major news sources fall in terms of political bias: 

Image of the 2021 All Sides Media Bias Chart

You may not agree with how news organizations are characterized on these charts, but both the Ad Fontes Media Bias chart and AllSides Media are transparent about their methods for determining bias, so you can see how they came up with where news outlets fall on their charts.

These charts can be useful, but are both simplifications of the media landscape and don't tell the whole story of any news outlet or source.

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