“Every man is entitled to his own opinion… but not his own facts!”
[Image source: Pew Research Center]
I get the impression that more Americans are taking notice of “fake news”, but when asked by others where they should get their news it is hard to come up with a list of empirically neutral and unbiased news. First, we should acknowledge which sources are biased (based on Pew research scaled from -10 to +10):
- Far left/ highly liberal: New Yorker, Slate.
- Left: Daily Show, The Guardian, Al Jazeera America (shut down April 2016), NPR, Colbert Report, New York Times
- Left leaning: BuzzFeed, PBS, BBC, Huffington Post, Washington Post, The Economist, Politico
- Slightly left of average: MSNBC, CNN, NBC
- Average, but left of neutral: CBS, Google News, Bloomberg, ABC, USA Today
- Right leaning: Fox News
- Right: Drudge Report
- Far Right/ highly conservative: Breitbart, Rush Limbaugh, The Blaze, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck
If I had to create a list of sources I consider to be empirically neutral, I would go with the following:
- C-Span is more of a “do it yourself” news source. If you have the patience, just watch the news as it develops and without any filtering whatsoever.
- Google News pools together various sources into one feed for the reader to sort through. By aggregating the left and the right, Google News is itself empirically neutral, with minor perturbations possibly calibrated by advertisement click-throughs (albeit to a relatively minor degree).
- BBC is a more objective source outside the influence of America’s slightly left-leaning bias. Of course, the Brits have their own left-leaning tendencies, but British left is slightly different from American left. Slightly.
- Reuters of today is approximately what Fox News claimed to be years ago. The articles are refreshingly neutral, considering the competitors.
- Associated Press is listed as being neutral, but I have seen some reports out of AP that are definitely not neutral.
- Wall Street Journal is relatively neutral, and well written.
How does one decide what is empirically neutral? Are not all the news sources inherently biased? When in doubt, follow the principles of journalism:
- JOURNALISM’S FIRST OBLIGATION IS TO THE TRUTH
- JOURNALISM’S FIRST LOYALTY IS TO CITIZENS
- JOURNALISM’S ESSENCE IS DISCIPLINE OF VERIFICATION
- JOURNALISM’S PRACTITIONERS MUST MAINTAIN AN INDEPENDENCE FROM THOSE THEY COVER
- JOURNALISM MUST SERVE AS AN INDEPENDENT MONITOR OF POWER
- JOURNALISM MUST PROVIDE A FORUM FOR PUBLIC CRITICISM AND COMPROMISE
- JOURNALISM MUST STRIVE TO MAKE THE SIGNIFICANT INTERESTING AND RELEVANT
- JOURNALISM MUST KEEP THE NEWS COMPREHENSIVE AND PROPORTIONAL
- JOURNALISM’S PRACTITIONERS MUST BE ALLOWED TO EXERCISE THEIR PERSONAL CONSCIENCE
[Image source: Imgur]
The image above is another representation of “unbiased news”, but this is one I am not a fan of. Unbiased news is not necessarily the same as empirically neutral news.
The consumer must choose if he or she is seeking unbiased news, which is really the news biased towards one’s inner “confirmation bias”, or empirically neutral news that just lays out objective facts devoid of subjective commentary, labeling, and adjectives.