Media Bias

Mendel

Senior Member.
Facts: A big issue with using media reports is the quality of media you're using to get your information; some media are more prone to spread misinformation than others. Happily, there are people tracking this.

Bias: Apart from the factual accuracy, there is also media bias that shapes the perspective how information is presented, and which information is selected for presentation.

If you want to get out of a rabbit hole (or get someone else out of one), opening up the daily news consumption to more factual and less biased media is a good idea.

Media Bias Chart (Ad Fontes)

This is a big overview chart. You need a license to download and publish it, but you can simply link to their site https://www.adfontesmedia.com/ or use the copies they shared on social media. (Note: they have two icons each for MSNBC and CNN to distinguish their TV programming from their web sites.)

Source: https://twitter.com/vlotero/status/1337477043504570371

External Quote:

I noticed the outrage & anger w/I my own family & have used the #mediabiaschart to get them to move OUT of the red / orange zones & UP the chart; their views were still represented ~ it has helped

Media Bias Fact Check​

Another site that lets you search for a specific news outlet (use the search box in the upper right corner) is https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/ . They report on both bias and factual accuracy of a source; I like that.
Where our report says "PRO-SCIENCE", most other sites have a bias slider that positions them on a spectrum of left to right.

Metabunk​

Metabunk - Pro Science - Evidence Based - Credible - Non Biased

Factual Reporting: High - Credible - Reliable



PRO-SCIENCE​

These sources consist of legitimate science or are evidence based through the use of credible scientific sourcing. Legitimate science follows the scientific method, is unbiased and does not use emotional words. These sources also respect the consensus of experts in the given scientific field and strive to publish peer reviewed science. Some sources in this category may have a slight political bias, but adhere to scientific principles. See all Pro-Science sources.
  • Overall, we rate Metabunk a Pro-Science source based on providing evidence-based information to debunk pseudoscience and conspiracy theories.

Detailed Report​

Factual Reporting: HIGH
Country: USA
World Press Freedom Rank: USA 45/180
History

Founded in 2010 by Mick West, Metabunk is primarily a forum that debunks pseudoscientific claims such as chemtrails, UFOs, and conspiracy theories. Mick West is is a science writer, skeptical investigator, and retired video game programmer. He also runs the site contrailscience.com. According to their about page “Metabunk.org is dedicated to the art and pastime of honest, polite, scientific investigating and debunking. It is primarily a discussion forum, however, the focus is on providing concise useful resources, and attempting to avoid repetitive debate and arguments.”

Funded by / Ownership
Metabunk is owned by Mick West. He reports on his about page “I do this purely out of personal interest, and nobody pays me in any way.” Revenue appears to be derived through advertising.
Analysis / Bias

In review, Metabunk consists of people who post forum questions that are answered by other members and Mick West. For example, a thread was created to investigate a potential UFO, Black UFO At Skinwalker Ranch (A Fly). Users prove it is actually a black fly that crossed in front of the lense. They also debunk ridiculous conspiracies such as Coronavirus being spread by 5G Debunking Correlations Between 5G deployments and Coronavirus. In general, this is a pro-science source that debunks pseudoscience and conspiracy theories through evidence.


Failed Fact Checks
  • None to date
Overall, we rate Metabunk a Pro-Science source based on providing evidence-based information to debunk pseudoscience and conspiracy theories. (D. Van Zandt 9/11/2016) Updated (8/13/2020)
Source: https://www.metabunk.org/

Allsides​

Allsides.com has a bias chart, and a database of over 800+ news outlets (scroll down on https://www.allsides.com/media-bias/media-bias-ratings to find the search box), but it doesn't rate sites on factual accuracy. AllSides Media Bias Ratings™ by AllSides.com are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. These ratings may be used for research or noncommercial purposes with attribution.
AllSidesMediaBiasChart-Version3.jpg



How reliable are these databases?​

These databases are good when you want to get a quick picture of what to expect from an outlet. But it doesn't say anything about a specific individual article from that outlet: it could still be biased or have errors in it. I'm using them more as a tool for setting my expectations when dealing with a specific source, but I remain alert to signs of errors and bias in the specific item of news I'm using as evidence.

The Poynter Institute took a look at the charts I mentioned above:

But perceiving the chart as distilled truth could give consumers an undue trust in outlets, McBride said.
“Overreliance on a chart like this is going to probably give some consumers a false level of faith,” she said. “I can think of a massive journalistic failure for just about every organization on this chart. And they didn’t all come clean about it.”
[..]
The charts are only as good as their methodologies. Both McBride and Groeling shared praise for the stated methods for rating bias of AllSides and Ad Fontes, which can be found on their websites. Neither Ad Fontes nor AllSides explicitly rates editorial standards.
[..]

Should you use the charts?​

Media bias charts with transparent, rigorous methodologies can offer insight into sources’ biases. That insight can help you understand what perspectives sources bring as they share the news. That insight also might help you understand what perspectives you might be missing as a news consumer.

But use them with caution. Political bias isn’t the only thing news consumers should look out for. Reliability is critical, too, and the accuracy and editorial standards of organizations play an important role in sharing informative, useful news.


MediaWise​

The Poynter Institute runs politifact.com. They also offer online training to enable users to do fact-checking for themselves with their MediaWise program at https://www.poynter.org/mediawise/ .
mediawise.jpg


They advocate for 3 simple questions to ask yourself before sharing informrtion:
  1. Who is behind the information?
  2. What is the evidence?
  3. What are other sources saying?

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XY6_p3w8oi4

External Quote:

Cruising along the internet super-highway, there's a lot to take in: social media pit-stops, roadside attractions like viral TikToks and lane upon lane of useful information. But weaving between apps, it's easy to lose your way or hit a roadblock like misinformation. But avoiding misleading claims isn't that tough: just ask yourself these three questions developed by the Stanford History Education Group.

1: Who is behind the information? Take a quick detour to read their bio. Are they an expert?
2: What is the evidence? Did they include a link to a credible source?
3: What are other sources saying? Like switching lanes, open up tabs and search using keywords for full context.

Even for digital natives, the road to accurate information can be a bumpy one, so these questions are especially important for first-time voters. Big decisions shouldn't be influenced by bogus info, so navigate with caution! Thinking twice before sharing can help us all get where we want to go.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYUwDbVJ75Y

External Quote:

During an election season, facts can get distorted, and sorting through what's true and false on your timeline can feel like a house of
mirrors. But before you let a post impact your vote, try fact checking it using something Stanford History Education Group calls "lateral reading".

Here's how it works: get off the page you're on, and open up tabs to verify the information, aka jump through that looking glass and dive down an internet rabbit hole! Professional fact checkers do it all the time:
* look into who shared this and why,
* search keywords from the post,
* check what other sources that you trust are reporting.

Even just 30 seconds researching can add clarity and ensure your vote is based on facts, not fiction.
 
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The MediaWise program above is simple to do and doesn't take much time.

If you want to dig deeper and evaluate a source not listed in the databases I presented above, or if you want to do your own investigation, here are some helpful tips:

Source: https://imgur.com/gallery/VFoVuUY

Original source: https://newslit.org/educators/resources/is-it-legit/
External Quote:

  1. Do a quick search: Conducting a simple search for information about a news source is a key first step in evaluating its credibility.
  2. Look for standards: Reputable news organizations aspire to ethical guidelines and standards, including fairness, accuracy and independence.
  3. Check for transparency: Quality news sources should be transparent, not only about their reporting practices (see above), but also about their ownership and funding.
  4. Examine how errors are handled: Credible news sources are accountable for mistakes and correct them. Do you see evidence that this source corrects or clarifies errors?
  5. Assess news coverage: An important step in vetting sources is taking time to read and assess several news articles.
Doing a quick search is my first step when encountering an unfamiliar source. For example, if it has a wikipedia page, that usually illuminates the background.
 

Attachments

Interesting. One could quibble forever about whether a given outlet should be 5/8 of an inch further right, left, up or down on the first chart, but let's not! ^_^ Maybe somebody would find it concerning that the left side skews upward in terms of reliability, with no left-leaning sources dipping down into the red "unreliable" zone -- if that bothers somebody, just tilt your screen a bit or drop it into photo shop and rotate the whole graph or something! But the rough general guidance is probably useful even so. The difference between news and opinion for some outlets on the Allsides chart is also something to keep in mind. Traditionally, I have found Fox's NEWS on election night to be reliable and a bit faster than other outlets, for example.

Now we need one where it shows "some guy on Reddit," "some chan anon," "a vid I saw on YouTube" and all the similar bad choices where so many people are now getting so much of their "news." They could save a lot of space in the upper half of the chart...
 
One could quibble forever about whether a given outlet should be 5/8 of an inch further right, left, up or down on the first chart, but let's not! ^_^
There's internal variance within those big outlets, so they're more like a cloud than a point anyway: individual articles skew from the "average" position of the outlet, which is why such a rating can only serve to set an expectation, but not judge an individual piece.


Maybe somebody would find it concerning that the left side skews upward in terms of reliability, with no left-leaning sources dipping down into the red "unreliable" zone -- if that bothers somebody, just tilt your screen a bit or drop it into photo shop and rotate the whole graph or something!
You're suggesting that criteria are applied unevenly, but that's not the case. It's more likely that extreme-left extremely-fake news sites exist, but they don't have enough of an audience to merit including in the chart.
 
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It's worth noting that the chart at the top gets updated at intervals, although I haven't searched it closely enough to see if there has been a significant change in any outlet. This is the latest I found, for January 2023, so it's two years later than the one at post #1.
IMG_2280.jpeg
 
You're suggesting that criteria are applied unevenly, but that's not the case.
I was suggesting it gives that appearance -- in retrospect, should have inserted "appears to skew" where "skews" appears -- had I believed it was seriously flawed, my suggestion that anybody bothered by that appearance to tilt the graph until the left side was a bit more on par with the right side giving a graph that was still pretty useful would not have been made, instead I would have said "their bias is showing" or similar.

I can't testify that there is no bias on the chart, nor that there is. But it is not biased to the point of worthlessness, if it were we'd have a diagonal line from upper left to lower right, instead of an arc

But since, as you correctly note, the outlets are "more a cloud than a point" (and take note of the note to the lower right, just off the chart, that some logos are shifted a bit for readability) -- preserving the EXACT positions is not really necessary for the chart to be useful, the general shape of the arc is sufficient. Sources at the lower ends of the arc are more ideological if that's what you are after, but are more opinion outlets or even propaganda organs than news outlets, so read/view with that in mind

Edited seconds after saving to add last sentence.
 
It's worth noting that the chart at the top gets updated at intervals, although I haven't searched it closely enough to see if there has been a significant change in any outlet. This is the latest I found, for January 2023, so it's two years later than the one at post #1.
Check their website, linked in the OP, for the latest version. (August 2023, also numbered 11.0 for some reason.)
Media change, so the charts and databases change, too.
Sources at the lower ends of the arc are more ideological if that's what you are after, but are more opinion outlets or even propaganda organs than news outlets, so read/view with that in mind
"Lower" means more bunk/opinion, "outer" means more ideological. The latest chart is more of a triangle than an arc, so the distinction matters.
 
instead I would have said "their bias is showing" or similar.
their bias is showing. "Before it's news" isnt a news source at all. and they add 3-4 individual shows from Fox News plus Fox News tv and Fox News web but no individual shows for MSNBC. (and the fact they think MSNBC tv is more reliable than Fox tv is laughable and kinda ruins any credibility of the chart.) < well technically MSNBC is higher because they're called "analysis" and Fox is called "opinion". which is still laughable.

(not saying it would be easy to make a fair and accurate chart, but maybe they should focus on fewer sources and analyze them more thoroughly)

add: which btw, Media Bias does acknowledge in interviews.. that what sources Don't write about or talk about also speaks to bias and reliability, but that can't be analyzed in their current methodology.
 
I tend to think there is really no such thing as an unbiased news source. Not so much because of any inherent bias in the 'true facts' sites but because often the truth sites themselves don't know the full facts.

To give but one example. Twenty or thirty years ago, the widely held view among house fire analysis experts was that certain patterns could only be produced if an accelerant ( i.e petrol ) was used. This 'truth' was widely reported in the media, and indeed quite a few people were imprisoned for arson on the basis of these 'facts'.

Roll the clock on, and fire experts realised that their original assertions were totally wrong, and a phenomenon called 'flashover' could create identical patterns to if an accelerant had been used. So the original 'truth' was completely wrong. Many of those former convictions have been quashed.
 
I tend to think there is really no such thing as an unbiased news source. Not so much because of any inherent bias in the 'true facts' sites but because often the truth sites themselves don't know the full facts.
Yet, apart from those unknown biases and errors, political biases and known, deliberately or carelessly false or misleading reporting exist and should be made transparent.

If there's something nobody knows, you can't expect the news to report it; but we want the things that are known to be reported correctly and fairly.
 
I tend to think there is really no such thing as an unbiased news source. Not so much because of any inherent bias in the 'true facts' sites but because often the truth sites themselves don't know the full facts.
Sorry How does that make them biased? They are reporting on the 'truth' as they knew it then, i.e. they did not wilfully lie.
Stupid example - news story "A member of the worlds smallest mammal species X has been breed in captivity in Berlin zoo for the first time'
Is this Biased cause maybe in 20 years time they discover an even smaller Mammal in the Congo?

To me biased is wilfully reporting stuff that they know to be untrue, eg the election was stolen narrative which fox news knew at the time to be BS but still went ahead and reported it
 
Sorry How does that make them biased? They are reporting on the 'truth' as they knew it then, i.e. they did not wilfully lie.
Stupid example - news story "A member of the worlds smallest mammal species X has been breed in captivity in Berlin zoo for the first time'
Is this Biased cause maybe in 20 years time they discover an even smaller Mammal in the Congo?

To me biased is wilfully reporting stuff that they know to be untrue, eg the election was stolen narrative which fox news knew at the time to be BS but still went ahead and reported it
This example is nothing like Scaramanga's statement. His example would be like if that headline came out but it was a tamarin and while tiny it's still vastly larger than the smallest shrews.

I'll give some examples:

https://news.yahoo.com/scientific-paper-claims-octopuses-actually-161100373.html
This was a very widely reported story, first appearing in 2016 and still being regurgitated to this day on major news sites: "New scientific paper claims octopuses are actually aliens from outer space." The actual study from 2015 actually claimed that octopuses are less alien (not in the outer space sense but in the sense that they are divergent from other life forms) than previously thought, with cephalopods diverging from other invertebrates more recently than believed, and several other groups actually diverged from cephalopods and not other mollusks, tying the group more closely to many mollusks (and in turn all other life) than previously believed.

https://phys.org/news/2022-12-physicists-wormhole-lab-hints-future.html
A more recent one from December 2022 (with reports on cable news as recently as last week) was about the same group of physicists creating both a "real traversable wormhole" and a "black hole producing Hawking radiation" in a lab. However, both were merely computer simulations. The most detailed and theory-accurate simulations ever performed but still simulations based on derived principles and not observations.


One could still argue this isn't bias, per se, however science reporting reveals a fundamental problem in the media: It is disinterested in facts, unwilling to fact-check before publication, and resistant to correcting mistakes after publication, even when repeatedly informed of them. And as you mention with election coverage, that's a familiar pattern and intrinsically linked with examples of bias.
 
we want the things that are known to be reported correctly and fairly.
Unfortunately the greater part of the public want things to be reported NOW. Most media sources, responsive to their customers, want to be the first to report an incident. Noisy crowds of newsmen surround public figures and shout out their questions. Haste is the enemy of accuracy, though, and, as Mark Twain supposedly said, "A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on".

For a recent example, a few weeks ago a speeding car crashed at a checkpoint at the US-Canada border, and for several days news outlets breathlessly babbled about "terrorism" before the authorities determined it was not. A mistake on the part of the media, probably driven by a pinch of paranoia in a bucketful of sensationalism. The hasty judgement was retracted ...but I'm sure that incident is now in the radical fringe's long list of "conspiracies that 'they' are covering up".
 
Sorry How does that make them biased? They are reporting on the 'truth' as they knew it then, i.e. they did not wilfully lie.
Stupid example - news story "A member of the worlds smallest mammal species X has been breed in captivity in Berlin zoo for the first time'
Is this Biased cause maybe in 20 years time they discover an even smaller Mammal in the Congo?

To me biased is wilfully reporting stuff that they know to be untrue, eg the election was stolen narrative which fox news knew at the time to be BS but still went ahead and reported it
"Wilfully reporting stuff that they know to be untrue" - This would be called disinformation.

Cognitive biases represent the output of cognitive "errors" from encoding, processing, and decoding information. For example, one we often see in relevancy to the forum, is authority bias. X was a government employee with X role or a clearance, so as such, they must know X Y or Z, and are less prone to error. In reality, none of these mean anything and are largely just as equally prone for error, just maybe in a different context than initially thought of.

Priming is another one we see a lot, humans have a tendency to "believe" information that is presented to us first. This is what allows things like the Continued Influence Effect to exist, where, after changing a belief with later-presented information, facets of the initial information can still impact the later belief, it's because tiny elements of it are still retained in the new "belief".
As an example of this, we have multiple cases of Ross Coulthart attempting to do this. I'll stick to the claimed "medical record leak" example. Ross Coulthart was the first one to tell us about the records, stating that it was a leak of medical records. Because he was the first to mention it, even before the source themselves, a lot of folks, including those who don't follow Ross, legitimately thought there was going to be a leak. When it did come out and the medical records part was proven false, plenty of folks continued, and still continue to believe it was a "leak".
 
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To me biased is wilfully reporting stuff that they know to be untrue

That's a pretty subjective third party view of bias. Someone might actually believe that something that is untrue is actually true, precisely because of bias. As for 'willfully reporting'.....all reporting is willful or they wouldn't do it.
 
In the context of this discussion, and how it is used on the rating sites:
Facts: A big issue with using media reports is the quality of media you're using to get your information; some media are more prone to spread misinformation than others. Happily, there are people tracking this.

Bias: Apart from the factual accuracy, there is also media bias that shapes the perspective how information is presented, and which information is selected for presentation.
Please do not use the word "bias" when talking about factual accuracy! It's confusing!
 
Please do not use the word "bias" when talking about factual accuracy! It's confusing!

There are numerous known cases where pilots have ignored the truthful and accurate readings on their instruments because confirmation bias has convinced them that this or that other scenario must be true. There's no factual inaccuracy, misinformation, or anything of that sort. Just a dogged belief that the truth 'can't' be true. This is clearly bias and even called such. And I am quite sure it occurs in media news too.
 
There are numerous known cases where pilots have ignored the truthful and accurate readings on their instruments because confirmation bias has convinced them that this or that other scenario must be true. There's no factual inaccuracy, misinformation, or anything of that sort. Just a dogged belief that the truth 'can't' be true. This is clearly bias and even called such. And I am quite sure it occurs in media news too.
In this context, it's confusing the issues, and misleading. Please stop.
 
There are numerous known cases where pilots have ignored the truthful and accurate readings on their instruments because confirmation bias has convinced them that this or that other scenario must be true. There's no factual inaccuracy, misinformation, or anything of that sort. Just a dogged belief that the truth 'can't' be true. This is clearly bias and even called such. And I am quite sure it occurs in media news too.
If you look at the chart under discussion, the vertical axis refers to accuracy and the horizontal to political bias, so no, they're not the same thing. I believe that's what @Mendel is referring to. Confirmation bias is an interesting topic, but not what we're discussing here.
 
I'll give some examples:
...
https://phys.org/news/2022-12-physicists-wormhole-lab-hints-future.html
A more recent one from December 2022 (with reports on cable news as recently as last week) was about the same group of physicists creating both a "real traversable wormhole" and a "black hole producing Hawking radiation" in a lab. However, both were merely computer simulations. The most detailed and theory-accurate simulations ever performed but still simulations based on derived principles and not observations.

The article at the end of your link begins thusly:
External Quote:
Did physicists make a wormhole in the lab? Not quite, but a new experiment hints at the future of quantum simulations

Scientists made headlines last week for supposedly generating a wormhole. The research, reported in Nature, involves the use of a quantum computer to simulate a wormhole in a simplified model of physics.

Soon after the news broke, physicists and experts in quantum computing expressed skepticism that a wormhole had in fact been created.

Media coverage was chaotic. Outlets reported that physicists had created a theoretical wormhole, a holographic wormhole or perhaps a small, crummy wormhole, and that Google's quantum computer suggests wormholes are real. Other outlets soberly offered the news that no, physicists didn't make a wormhole at all.

If this has you confused, you're not alone! What's going on?
It is not an example of bad reporting, it is an example of good reporting - most of the obvious phrases in the above quote are links to what they suggest too - this is not what your paragraph led me to expect. The link/quoting policy exists for a reason, please abide by it.
 
As for 'willfully reporting'.....all reporting is willful or they wouldn't do it.
True, sorry 'knowingly' is prolly a better word,
though I did look up the definition of willfully and it exactly means what I meant
'deliberately, although you know that what you are doing is wrong'
External Quote:
Cambridge defines it slightly diferently
 
For a recent example, a few weeks ago a speeding car crashed at a checkpoint at the US-Canada border, and for several days news outlets breathlessly babbled about "terrorism" before the authorities determined it was not.
Days? It was a couple of hours.
 
That depends entirely upon your news source.
The FBI came to the conclusion on Wednesday (the same day as the crash).
https://www.ktvu.com/news/new-details-emerge-over-deadly-crash-at-u-s-canada-border

The car crashed and burst into flames just east of the main Niagara Falls border checkpoint.

"Then all of a sudden I saw black smoke and then fire. There was no explosion, just the black smoke," said Wilson, "I just couldn't believe what I was seeing, it was like something in Hollywood."

It happened about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday Eastern Standard Time.

Security concerns prompted officials to shut down three other New York border crossings for several hours. The governor later announced there was no evidence it was a terrorist attack.

"Based on the preliminary investigation, no sign of terrorist activity in this horrific explosion that occurred here in Western New York," said Gov. Hochul.

One border worker in a booth had minor injuries and was taken to a hospital, treated and then released.

Hochul says the car was incinerated, with nothing left but the engine and debris across about a dozen booths at the checkpoint where the driver crashed.

Wilson says another witness who drives a taxi saw the man in the white car speeding.

"The guy who drives a cab here thinks he was going 100 miles an hour coming down the street here," said Wilson.

The FBI late Wednesday night said it has handed over the case to the Niagara Falls Police Department as a traffic investigation.
Can you provide a news source that was still pushing the terrorism angle after the 22nd?
 
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Can you provide a news source that was still pushing the terrorism angle after the 22nd?
I'm sorry. You're right, of course, that legitimate news sources concluded by the end of the day that no act of terrorism occurred. However, the terrorism claims reverberated for some time on social media, often led by people who were quick to make the claim but slow to retract it, and that's probably what I remembered.

External Quote:
A number of Republican figures, including members of Congress, were quick to falsely describe the incident at a bridge in the U.S.-Canada border as a terrorist attack before officials labeled it as such.

Two people died after a car crashed and exploded at the Niagara Falls International Rainbow Bridge in New York as the vehicle was speeding towardsCanada on the morning of November 22.
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/f...rder-explosion-a-terrorist-attack/ar-AA1kpjWY
 
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