More so than simply being informed, it is vitally important that all members of society understand the perspective of the informers. By understanding the political tendencies of those who inform our opinions — news organizations, friends, family — a clearer picture of the news can be understood. With bias taken into account, the news can even be trusted from biased news sources, but this must be done with care.
Taken perhaps less as gospel and more as a rough estimate, the media bias chart shown above paints a picture of both the political bias as well as the validity of the news that the sources report as related to the primary list of news sources in the United States.
Created by Ad Fontes Media, a small Colorado-based organization that focuses on validating news sources. Their greatest and best-known endeavor is in creating and maintaining the media bias chart. Given their origins, location, size, and accreditation, much like the news they cover, their perspective on media bias should be taken with a grain of salt. But as a rough estimation, the chart serves well.
Spotting one’s favorite news source may be tough for many to swallow. With the conservative wing of news concentrating further to the right and further down than the liberal side. But the chart is an attempt in providing an unbiased perspective on the news. And although it is difficult for news to lack any bias whatsoever, there is a strong and noticeable difference between the reporting from Reuters and that of Drudge Report or Alternet.
As can be expected, the chart is not perfect. The information is laid out with factual reporting at the top and propaganda and false information at the bottom as a scale for news quality. Where it becomes ambiguous is in the top half of the chart where as the overall quality metric appears to go down, the labels consist of terminology like “Analysis” which mixes with “High Variation in Reliability”. This is where MSNBC, Slate, and The New York Post lie. Such vague and seemingly arbitrary combinations of types of news sources can muddy the perspective that the chart provides. But, again, the broader picture it paints is accurate.
Saying it’s important to diversify news sources is like saying it’s important to floss. Everyone knows it’s something they should do, but actually doing it takes discipline and a small journey outside of one’s comfort zone. But with the help of bias tools like this, the hope is that readers will at least understand the bias of their news sources and they will look to listen to other news sources spread across the spectrum.