Many publications such as magazines and newspapers and media organizations have a reputation for being politically left or right. Some media outlets openly acknowledge a bias or viewpoint while others do not; others strive to present a variety of viewpoints.
Individual contributors to any publication or media organization may not conform to the source's reputation. Evaluating every news report for bias is important - don't just rely on a source's reputation.
When examining an issue, it's helpful to see the issue from a variety of viewpoints. This guide presents information about publications, media outlets, think tanks, and media monitoring organizations broken into general categories of liberal and conservative.
To determine the bias or viewpoint of a source, ask yourself these questions:
Is the article using persuasive or "loaded" language?
Word choice is important. People on different sides of an issue often have different terms for the same issue. Consider, for example, the difference between the terms abortion and murder.
Are quotes or facts taken out of context?
Double check facts and quotes, especially if something seems unbelievable. It is easy to take a person's words out of context, and facts often have a context too.
Does the article exaggerate or use misinformation?
Don't rely on one source - check for exaggeration or misinformation by examining sources from the other side, as well as sources generally recognized as objective.
Just because a source of information is biased, doesn't mean that it cannot be used effectively in your writing.
Bias does not equal bad. It is just important that as a researcher, you recognize the bias and respond to it appropriately in your writing.
As a general rule, it is important that you acknowledge your source's bias in your own writing. This is to indicate to your reader or audience that you are aware of the bias and have taken it into consideration in constructing your argument.
Example: Ben Christopher, taking the conservative stance on this issue, suggests that....
In expository writing--a type of writing that is meant to inform, explain, describe, or give information-- it is important that you include sources from both perspectives. If you have a very liberally biased source, counter that source with a conservative bias.
When looking at a website, evaluate it using criteria such as:
Purpose & Audience
Authority & Credibility
Accuracy & Reliability
Currency & Timeliness
Objectivity or Bias
Structure & Navigation
Finally, ask yourself these questions: