Stoneage Ramblings

By John R. Stone

A new Media Bias Report has been released in September and it provides an interesting look at a variety of media.

You can Google “media bias report” or go to the adfontesmedia.com website. You can see the chart itself and find information about how determinations are made about where a media outlet appears on the chart.

At the top of the chart are media that primarily are fact reporting. To the left and right are categories for “skews left” or “skews right” and the, further out, “hyper-partisan right” or “hyper-partisan left.”  There is one more section for “extreme” right or left.

Top to bottom starts with “fact reporting,” then goes to “mostly analysis or mix of fact reporting an analysis,” “analysis or high variation in reliability,” “opinion or high variation in reliability,” “selective, incomplete, unfair persuasion, propaganda or other issues,” “contains misleading information,” and finally “contains inaccurate/fabricated info.”

Different media do different things in an attempt to attract people from various audiences to read, listen or watch. And some make no pretext about being without bias as they seek to provide what their audiences want to receive.

There are a lot of ways to show bias. One can be whether or not to cover a story at all. Another can be in the placement in a news feed, where is it in a TV broadcast, whether it is on the front page of a paper or inside. Another is being selective about which facts are used in a story. Those are the more subtle forms of bias. Others can be much more blatant.

Understanding where media come from can be helpful in determining how much weight you place on the information presented. If an outlet is consistently in the “misleading info” or “contains inaccurate or fabricated info” one might want to be careful. While it might be interesting to see what the left or right is promoting you may not be getting an overall explanation in that piece.

Tops in the area of fact reporting is Associated Press. The AP gathers and sells news to other outlets so it is selling to both right and left leaning outlets. Reuters is right up there with AP as is Voice of America.

CBS, ABC, BBC, NPR, Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Forbes, USA Today, The Economist, New York Times, Washington Post, Fox Business, and Forbes are mostly in the middle with the New York Times slightly to the left and the Wall Street Journal slightly to the right.

If you follow these media you will generally find that in the straight news departments the facts will match up as the different media cover different subjects.

It is important to remember that news and editorial and opinions are not the same. Most major publications, including the Star Tribune, have separate editorial and news staffs. So what you will find on the editorial or opinion pages are interpretations of what the facts mean. You may or may not agree with the conclusions that editorial writers and columnists. In most major media these folks will base their opinions on facts but those facts may be emphasized in different ways than they might in the straight news department.

The Washington Post, for example, will have a more liberal stance than the Wall Street Journal on its editorial pages, although both will occasionally run columns that might raise interesting issues even if they run counter to their normal editorial stance.

And both publications have been critical in editorials of both President Joe Biden and former President Donald J. Trump.

Near the bottom of the chart are media in the “selective, incomplete, unfair persuasion, propaganda or other issues,” categories. These include Bipartisan Report and Occupy Democrats on the left and Epoch Times and Hannity on the right.

Go take a look at the chart at adfontesmedia.com