The News and Its Sources

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Every so often I see discussions on various blogs related to news sources. One person will adamantly claim a particular source is biased a certain way, while another person will just as adamantly claim the opposite.

Occasionally such dialogues can get rather “heated” as each person offers “proof” that their assessment of a particular news publication is the CORRECT one.

Much of one’s value judgement in these discussions is based on personal bias … although we tend to deny this and tell ourselves we’re viewing the topic from a purely neutral perspective. 😉

In any case, I came across this website awhile back and for me, it clearly lays out where the various news sources stand. I invite you to take a look. (I tend to think some of you may be a bit surprised.)

And don’t stop at just the listings … read on to the section: “How to Recognize Biased News Source” where it lists the characteristics that will help you make an informed determination.

Finally, this from the article’s closing:

Finding an unbiased newspaper or news source may seem like an impossible task. In part because humans are seldom able to have an open mind about something. 

And, most importantly, this …

Therefore, it is up to the public to read multiple news sources and different viewpoints before forming a judgment. 

32 thoughts on “The News and Its Sources

  1. My experience:

    The news reports are usually reasonably accurate, except when they are reporting on something that I know about. And, in that case, they invariably get everything wrong.

    I extrapolate from that, and assume that they get a lot wrong all the time. But I suppose this is to be expected. The reporters are usually not expert in the area that they are reporting on, so they don’t have a good perspective.

    Yes, I use multiple news sources.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Is what you “know about” a random event or happening? Or is it politically-related knowledge? The latter is what generally stirs up the debates and the claims that one news source is more reliable than another.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I’ve noticed that mainstream media reports on new discoveries in fields like astronomy, human evolution, biology, or linguistics usually display laughable ignorance of the basics of those subjects, even in publications which are generally considered to be of high quality. I have a broad basic knowledge of those fields so I can easily tell. The same is sometimes true of reporting about the Middle East, which was my area of academic specialization, though the MSM does also have its share of good-quality reporting about that.

        In these cases, the problem is ignorance rather than bias, but that can be just as bad in terms of getting accurate information.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. My, my, my! Thank you so very much Nan for making me feel super-duper great about myself… as well as how my Dad raised me and taught me. 😁❣️

    Of the 15 Most Unbiased News Sources (2021), Dad (then myself with him) and later since my late teens, he and I have always watched, listened to, and read 8.5 out of 15 of those sources… since the 1970’s. Six of them I still heavily rely on today.

    I thought about saying a lot more on this, but thought No. Let’s simply be humble, modest, and short-winded and say little-to-no more. Hehehe 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Reuters and AP are my two favorites so I’m glad to see them ranking at the top. NPR and WPR (National public radio and Wisconsin public radio) used to be on my list but in the last decade or so they’ve fallen apart, especially with their daily programming like One A, which started out as a serious discussion about the first amendment had now seems to have slipped into lengthy interviews of musicians and singers no one has ever heard of, and celebrities pushing their latest ghost written books.

    As for cable news, it basically isn’t. Isn’t news, I mean. A while back Pew took a look at the actual content of the bigger cable news outlets and found that the majority of the material being presented isn’t actually news, it is editorial comments from various talking heads or whatever politician they can drag out of their hidey holes to come on and rant for a few minutes about whatever. MSNBC, CNN, Faux News all ranked horribly, with as much as 75% of their content being opinion and commentary.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Bias can be difficult to spot because it very often takes the form not of slanted reporting, but of simply not covering stories that don’t fit the preferred narrative. Thus people who get all their news just from sources that agree with their existing world-view are often totally ignorant of major events which clash with that world-view — and are thus blindsided by (for example) election results which were influenced by those events.

    I agree that it’s necessary to read sources with a wide range of viewpoints. You don’t need to agree with them, but anyone who reads only liberal or only conservative sources is going to miss knowing about a lot of things that are going on, or get a grossly-distorted picture of them. It’s also wise to read sources that have specialized areas of expertise (such as science-news sites, or sites that specialize in particular regions of the world) to compensate for the ignorance of most general-news sites about such fields.

    In some cases bias is sort of predictable. For example, I’ve found al-Jazeera (which is on TechPresident’s 15-most-unbiased list) to be good on most areas, but highly biased about Israel.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. The finding of truth is a skill set that we should all be developing very fast in todays hi tech world of communications. We all know how many lies are told to sell rubbish merchandise to the masses and it should not be a surprise to understand every other man and his dog are well into it. We live in a world of political lies, anti science wankers, Murdoch bias, social media crap and dangerous conspiracies that incite violence, separate communities, divide cities and countries. Nothing is black or white anymore, a spade is not a spade, the Earth is increasingly becoming flat and pigs evidently really do fly 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Nan, your last suggestion speaks volumes. We must look at multiple sources of news providers. I urge folks not to mistake opinion entertainment hosts as news sources, no matter how learned they seem and are. They are offering opinion, at best, and some are offering misinformation and even disinformation. Even Fox News management threw Tucker Carlson under the bus in court during a defamation lawsuit saying under oath that Carlson is not part of the news staff, so his opinions should not be construed as news. I ask people to not just take my word on this and research it. Keith

    Liked by 3 people

    • I ask people to not just take my word on this and research it.

      Keith, I repeat the same thing over and over and over, ad infinitum ad nauseum to hundreds (thousands?) of Texans here. Sadly, very very sadly it falls on deaf-ears. Why?

      Plain and simply… 98% of Texas Republicans are horribly LAZY in doing extensive brain-exercises with critical-thinking and research involved—to them it seems to smack of Democrat Intellectualism (then you see literally the blood-rise and smoke come outta their ears; think I”m kidding?)—and they only want to be told WHAT to do and WHAT to say rather than exert needed oversight and Checks-n-Balances… a concept that is utterly alien to them. 🤦‍♂️😔 Don’t discuss how “Freedom of the Press” correlates with that, you’ll make their little brains explode! 🤯

      It’s indolence to the max.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Professor, I hear you. I think the only way to gain some traction is to be even handed in an argument that is not a normal distribution. While the misinformation is more weighted on the right in my view, we must say folks like Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell are also opinion hosts. I find both more informed on actual issues than many of their conservative counterparts, but they still are offering opinion. To me, I seem to get more traction that way. Yet, as you note, we are pushing a boulder uphill. Keith

        Liked by 2 people

        • Here is the key statement about many (most?) TV “news” people: they still are offering opinion. Yet we know that there are untold numbers of “watchers” that will swear on their mother’s grave that what has been uttered by these people is T.R.U.T.H.

          I like the two individuals you mentioned –and watched them a great deal when the orange-tinted ̶l̶i̶a̶r̶ leader was in charge. But now I rarely watch ANY TV news. Instead, I check Google News about once a day to get an overview, plus I subscribe to a number of newsletters that keep me informed. These two sources offer about as much as I care to read.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell?

          Yes, by comparison to all other news anchors, hosts, or contributors O’Donnell certainly falls in the Opinionated Pool. Maddow, not as much given that she is balanced out or tempered a bit, if you will, by her personal ties to the LGBTQ community, naturally. Your point, however, is valid.

          For the most part I’ve had to stop watching CNN because ever since 2016 when tRump began to enter Republican politics, CNN has become increasingly reactionary to FoxNews and now NewsMax and unfortunately have lowered their journalistic standards down to those horrendous propaganda outlets. 🤦‍♂️ Very disappointing about CNN.

          Yet, sensational propaganda is the evil of For-Profit news corporations, which is why I rely heavily on as many non-profit outlets, e.g. PBS, NPR, etc, and media organizations like The Texas Tribune* which is the only member-supported, digital-first, nonpartisan media organization that informing Texans. Isn’t it amazing how if you take away massive corporate profits & revenue, how drastically that makes Directors, employees, Presidents, managers, reporters, investigative journalists… all (a lot?) less influenced, tempted, less corruptible, and more moderate or neutral, seeking out ALL viewpoints and positions—for a wider donating audience? BWAAAAAAA! What a novel idea, right? 😉

          Nevertheless, we must do our best to try and take the higher road rather than slipping into what CNN has no become. That was a bad mistake on their part. 😒

          Liked by 1 person

        • Nan, Prof, I also like PBS Newshour and NPR as good sources. I haven’t watched CNN in a long while as well. I do read a number of sources for most of my news, but I still feel more sources need to stop telling me who wins or loses with an action. This feeds into an endless zero sum game where nothing gets done because the other side cannot let it happen on someone else’s watch. Good post and discussion. Thanks, Keith

          Liked by 1 person

  7. I am reading “Reality Hunger,” (A Manifesto) by David Shields. It is interesting for me that it relates to this topic.

    I mind bias less when I expect it. But lies, intentional propaganda, and BS I have little time for, even when I agree with it. I recently read R. Maddow’s report/take on Ted C’s backpaddling of (Jan 6 was “terrorism”) and being raked over by T. Carlson on FOX. But I was not info gathering, that was for pure pleasure. 🙂

    I noticed there is another (new?) news group on FB claiming to give us the unbiased truth. (eye roll and condescending giggle).

    I agree with your first italicized line, but not so much the (“most importantly”) second. As I have said before, I read what I want. Since I can’t read everything, I must be discerning.

    If I blogged politically (I do some, but seldom), it might be different. No one has sued me yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The “most importantly” is because, IMO, most of us stick with publications (and writers) that tend to agree with our own thinking. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But it doesn’t give a person a wider scope of what’s going on in the world. Even beyond politics.

      If we’re going to defend our viewpoints, isn’t it important to at least know where the other person is coming from? (And this includes religious discussions as well as political ones.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sure, Nan.
        If we engage in communication or discussion. However, I do not feel the need to (you did say “if”) defend my views. Explain, maybe. But I do it here on your blog more than anywhere else.
        I will answer questions, but I will not debate or argue. I refuse to waste my time (literally) with what I consider nonsense. (vax is bad, masks don’t work, open everything, etc.)
        In some cases I simply do not give a rat’s ass what they think. 🙂 QAaon? No way!

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Every nation/culture seems to have its own propaganda and core beliefs, true and false; although some nations/cultures — usually the largest and/or most powerful — are much more corrupt and brutal than the smaller, weaker ones.

    I hear and read praise, or conservatives’ scorn, heaped upon The New York Times for their supposed uncompromised integrity when it comes to humanitarianism and ethical journalism. Yet, did they not help create the Iraq War, through then-U.S.-VP Dick Cheney’s self-citing via the Times’ website? That would be the same Cheney who monetarily benefitted from the war via Iraqi oil fields — a war I consider to have been much more like a turkey shoot, considering the massive military might attacking the relatively weak country.

    I recall reading that The Times had essentially claimed honest-ignorance innocence on the grounds that it was its blogger’s overzealousness that was/is at fault. But is it really plausible that The Times did/does not insist upon securing the non-publishable yet accurate identity of its writers’ anonymous information sources — in this case, a devious Cheney — especially considering that Cheney himself would then use that anonymous source’s (i.e. his own) total BS about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify a declaration of war that inevitably resulted in genuine gratuitous mass suffering and slaughter?

    I believe that The Times may have jumped on this particular atrocity-prone bandwagon, perhaps due to the massive 9/11 blow the city took only a few years prior. There was plenty of that particularly bitter bandwagon going around in Western circles back then. Quite memorable was New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman’s appearance on Charlie Rose’s show (May 29, 2003), where he ranted about the war’s justification and supposed success. “… We needed to go to that part of the world; and what they needed to see [was that] American boys and girls going house to house, from Basrah to Baghdad, [and] simply saying, ‘suck on this’.”

    It’s as though they all decided: ‘Just to be on the safe side, let’s error in favor of militarily assaulting, invading and devastating Iraq’.

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  9. Sorry, this is going to be long, but I gues at this point I am not glogging the conversation any more. This such an important issue, and it is hard to sum it up in a couple of sentences.

    There is a big problem with the idea of the news source being “unbiased” or neutral because an attempt towards this may lead to present the news items “from both” sides. This problem is present both on the part of the news agency as well as someone trying to build a picture from multiple sources. The danger lies in moving goal posts, as it were. If one side of a political news story is telling the story according to the facts and has based their political standing on those and the other is cultivating “alternative facts” or in plain words conspiracy theories, then the neutral middle ground is not objective at all. It is false, though it may not be as wildly false as the conspiracy theories.

    Objectivity is what we want from our news, not neutrality.

    I get most of my news stories from our national broadcasting company YLE here in Finland, but I also read newspapers from various different publishers. To me it is not so important, that I get the news as they are happening, rather I would wait for an actual analysis of what really happened, but the hectic online reporting makes a lot of the news today really bad, because the reporters do not have time to come to grasp with what they are reporting on. YLE has some very good reporters in the US, so they keep me posted on what is happening there. If I want a different view, or more on some subject I refer to the BBC and if I want to have a good laugh I look what the Young Turks have posted about the subject matter, if anything. I do not need to look at Fox, to know what their angle will be, and I do not expect it to be based on facts anyway, so why bother looking at what they are saying?

    “News” sources, like for example the Fox “News” and a lot of tabloid papers around the globe work in a capitalist manner to use the markets to maximase profits. If you have a product – such as news – how do you sell it to people? Well, why of course, you do marketing the way it is always done. You pinpoint it to the woulnerable marketting audience – the stupid and ignorant people, who are more likely to buy anything marketted. To get their attention as a “news source” you only have to find out what are their biases and start feeding them those. They feel good and get back to your product again and again. It is hardly a surprice, that the ignorant stupid people, who do not care about the facts, but want the world to bend to their biases share the values marketted through Fox “news”.

    A completely different and far worse problem seems to be, that a lot of people today do not trust the traditional media at all and get their “news” from the so called social media. That is where all sorts of bogus stories go about and a frighteningly large portion of any society is ready to believe anything said there, that just confirms their biases.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Canada’s mainstream print news-media conglomerate Postmedia — which, except for The Toronto Star, owns Canada’s major print publications — is on record allying itself with not only the planet’s second most polluting forms of carbon-based “energy”, but also THE MOST polluting/dirtiest of crudes — bitumen. [“Mair on Media’s ‘Unholiest of Alliances’ With Energy Industry”, Nov.14 2017, TheTyee.ca] https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2017/11/14/mair-media-unholiest-alliances

    During a presentation it was stated, among other astonishing things, that: “Postmedia and CAPP [Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers] will bring energy to the forefront of our national conversation. Together, we will engage executives, the business community and the Canadian public to underscore the ways in which the energy sector powers Canada.” Also, a then-publisher of Postmedia’s National Post said: “From its inception, the National Post has been one of the country’s leading voices on the importance of energy to Canada’s business competitiveness internationally and our economic well-being in general. We will work with [Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers] to amplify our energy mandate and to be a part of the solution to keep Canada competitive in the global marketplace. The National Post will undertake to leverage all means editorially, technically and creatively to further this critical conversation.”

    A few years ago, Postmedia also had acquired a lobbying firm with close ties to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney in order to participate in his government’s $30 million PR “war room” in promoting the interests of the fossil fuel industry in Canada. Furthermore, in late May, Postmedia refused to run paid ads by Leadnow, a social and environmental justice organization, that expose the Royal Bank of Canada as the largest financer of fossil fuel extraction in Canada.

    Really, should the promotion of massive fossil fuel extraction, even Canada’s own, be a partisan position for any newspaper giant to take, especially considering fossil fuel’s immense role in manmade global warming thus climate change? And, at least in this case, whatever happened to the honorable journalistic role of ‘afflicting the comfortable’ (which went along with ‘comforting the afflicted’), especially one of such environmental monstrosity?

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