In This Guide:
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.
How to Use Biased Media Perspective Sources
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.
Evaluating Web Information
When looking at a website, evaluate it using criteria such as:
Purpose & Audience
- Who is the site designed for?
- Is the site scholarly or popular?
- Are there advertisements on the site?
- What is the overall purpose of the site?
Authority & Credibility
- Can the author of the site be identified?
- What are the author's qualifications?
- Is the site affiliated with a particular organization?
- What is the domain of the site (.edu, .gov, .org, .com)?
- Do you think the author has expertise on the subject?
Accuracy & Reliability
- Does the site appear to be well-researched?
- Are there references to the sources of informations supporting the site's statements or viewpoints?
- Does the site include grammatical, spelling, or typographical errors?
- How does the site compare to library resources available on the topic?
Currency & Timeliness
- When was this information published?
- Does the page indicate when it was most recently updated?
- Are there dead links on the page?
Objectivity or Bias
- Does the site present many opinions or just one?
- Can you tell if the site presents mostly opinions or facts?
- Can you identify any bias in the information presented?
- Is the site sponsored by a company or organization?
- If there are advertisements, are they easy to distinguish from the informational content?
Structure & Navigation
- Is the site well organized?
- Is it easy to navigate between different pages on the site?
- Does the site offer a search box?
Finally, ask yourself these questions:
- Is this site a reliable, well-documented information source provided by a reputable author or organization?
- Would this be a good source of information for my assignment?
University Library 250
Instructional Services Librarian
My favorite books are:
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Emotionally Weird, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, Franny and Zooey, Imogene's Antlers