Understanding The Media Bias Chart and Why It Changes

We always strive to produce an updated static Media Bias Chart that is easily sharable and understandable at a glance, because we know it helps communicate important information about the news landscape quickly.

So many people find it useful for educating students, peers, colleagues, friends, and family. Though many people instinctively disagree with the placement of sources, it always sparks conversation. We’ve seen that if people are willing to engage on the details, this Chart can build bridges across seemingly intractable political divides.

Whether you have been following our Media Bias Chart for a while or you just found us, here are some useful tips for understanding the Chart:

  • One static image cannot possibly contain all the sources or explain all the details.
  • We now have nearly 500 news sources fully rated, most of which you can see on our free and premium versions of the Interactive Chart. We will keep adding sources there frequently, so make sure you check it out to find additional news sources, our most up-to-date ratings, and dive into the article ratings behind them.
  • People have questions about the Media Bias Chart, like how it was created and what the categories mean. You can find answers to those questions at our site. The best place to start is here: Intro to the Media Bias Chart
  • Remember, the vertical axis indicates reliability; the left, center, or right position doesn’t. That is, “middle” doesn’t necessarily mean “more news value/reliability.” There just happens to be a high concentration of high reliability sources that happen to fall near the middle. Middle doesn’t mean “morally correct” or “ideal.” The left-right spectrum here tries to capture what US, contemporary political positions ARE and what the media on the chart says about them.
  • On sources that fall in the “Analysis” and “Opinion” categories; some sources fall in there because they contain mostly analysis or opinion, but other sources fall in there because they contain articles that vary widely in reliability, with a mix of factual, reliable articles along with some completely unreliable articles.
    • This causes some sources on the left and the right to have similar OVERALL reliability scores even though the news sources are very different in nature. That strikes many observers on the left as unfair, because that means a source that is all left-leaning opinion and analysis with no misleading or false stories results in a similar overall reliability score as a right-leaning source with a mostly factual reporting and but somewhat frequent misleading and false stories.
    • One way we illustrate these differences is by showing the spread in actual articles per source, on the Interactive Media Bias Chart, but if folks don’t go to the Interactive, they won’t see that nuance. On one hand, that is a limitation of the static Media Bias Chart
    • On the other hand, the vertical axis is trying to capture a metric of “news value and reliability,” and there are good reasons that both “all-opinion/analysis sources” and “high variation in reliability” sources are both in the middle of the chart. One similarity they have is that they tend to be highly trusted by partisans on their side and highly distrusted by partisans on the other side. The reason for the high trust/distrust of sources on the left tends to be because it is consistently left-bias confirming content. The reason for the high trust/distrust of sources on the right tends to be because much of the content is straight news and just “some” content is misleading. Those on the right might dismiss this content while those on the left highlight it. Is occasional misleading content ultimately worse than all-opinion content? I think so, but it’s hard to capture that nuance in two dimensions.
  • Remember, source scores are weighted averages of article scores, with low reliability articles weighted heavily.

Info on future Media Bias Charts:

Going forward, as we add newly rated sources, we’ll provide monthly “editions” of the static Media Bias Chart.

  • These will be the same version (e.g., version 7.1) until a new version is announced
  • Just a handful of news sources will be swapped out for others for the purposes of visibility
  • Purchasers of one-time downloads or posters will receive the current January 7.0 version
  • All monthly editions (and new versions) are available as downloads to all Members– this Media Bias Chart Version 7.1 April 2021 Edition is now available on Member pages, and Members will be receiving licensed downloadable copies via email!
  • If you just want to see and share a hi-res version on social media, go to our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages!

If you don’t see a source on here, it is for one of two reasons:

  1. We have rated it, but it’s not on this version of the Media Bias Chart because we can’t fit all rated sources on here at once. This happens with a lot of good news sources that should be up near the top middle. We rotate them in and out on different editions.
  2. We haven’t rated it yet. There are thousands of news sources out there, and there are fewer than 100 on this chart.

To see all sources we have rated, please check out our list of Individual News Source Pages.