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News Quality

 

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We are living in a time where we have more information available to each of us than ever before in history. However, we are not all proficient at distinguishing between good information and bad information. This is true for liberal, moderate, and conservative people. I submit that these two circumstances are highly related to why our country is so politically polarized at the moment.

Why is it that I can have such different views on the same subject or topic as someone else who lives in the same country? Take the polarizing example of people’s opinions on Hillary. Why do I think she is qualified and inspiring but others think she is literally evil incarnate? I don’t know her personally. And neither do you. We must both admit that our opinions of her are informed by the news sources we read and believe. And news sources vary widely in what they report.

Which news sources should we believe, when there are so many to choose from, and each one is telling you not to believe another one? I put together this chart of which news sources I think you should use and which ones you should not. If you value my opinion as someone who both is reasonable and well-informed, you may find it helpful. If you don’t really care what I think, it will be useless to you. These are my subjective opinions based on having read many news stories from each of the listed sites. The only credibility or authority I can claim in this regard is that I read and write analytically for a living.

Before you look at the chart, I’d like to address the fact that many people object to media sources on the basis that they are “mainstream.” They say “I don’t believe the mainstream media! They are owned by big corporations and do things for money!” But where did they get that idea? From another media source. Remember that each media source has their own incentives (like monetary ones) to get people to listen to them and not to someone else. You have to evaluate media based on something other than the fact that one source told you not to listen to another source.

Remember that journalism is a professional and academic field with a set of agreed-upon standards. People get degrees in it and people who are really good at it get jobs in it at good organizations. Peer review helps ensure mainstream sources adhere to standards; if a story doesn’t meet those standards, other news outlets report on that. Not believing the mainstream media just because it is mainstream is like not believing a mainstream doctor or a mainstream lawyer. Sure, you should question and rate the quality of what the newspaper, doctor, or lawyer says, but you shouldn’t dismiss them out of hand because the paper is big, the doctor works at a hospital, or the lawyer works at a firm.

The chart is pretty self-explanatory. Here are some caveats and reasons for my rankings:

-I am operating out of the assumption that the less blatantly partisan the source is, the more accurate it is.
-I understand that individual reporters, even at the most reputable news sources, have their own personal biases and opinions. The rankings are an overall ranking of each site.
-“Sensational” means the article have titles like “So and so DESTROYS so and so with THIS response!”
-“Clickbait” means the articles have titles like “She walked into a meeting. What happened next will shock you!”
-“Conspiracy theories” means shit that is just made up. Like National Enquirer type stories.
-I’m sure this will offend some people that typically agree with me politically. Sorry.

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81 Comments on "News Quality"

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Nexcerpt
Guest

I curate online sources for a news monitoring services. I’m interested in knowing who created this chart, which I saw posted elsewhere early today. I presume you want privacy, so I won’t use names.

Which of these is true?

You are V.
You borrowed this from V.
V borrowed this from you.

Thanks!

David Zuckman
Guest

I saw this shared on Facebook and liked the image so much I shared it myself. I might have put the NYT and WaPo a touch more left and WSJ a touch more right but overall it’s dead on. Expect this to get some circulation, thanks for making it!

Cindy Bogard
Guest

I don’t see CBS News on the chart. Is there a reason for that? Thanks for the cool work you did with this.

Chris Guro
Guest

So, did you create this and are we permitted to share with credit or not share? This is great, at the very least a great talking point.

Mark Leisher
Guest

The Christian Science Monitor should be added.

Bob
Guest

Nice Chart. I’ve seen it a few times this morning on twitter & facebook.

A small labeling suggestion, you should choose one: “don’t read this” or “just no” and use it the same on both sides.

Greg Jenkins
Guest
Vanessa (I will use your name since you provided it via your Twitter handle), I like the chart ( and agree with much of it). Please don’t get me wrong, this is not meant as criticism, but what is your expertise when it comes to Journalism? I see that you are a Patent Attorney, and you work in Intellectual Property. I am sure that you are well educated. I just want to know how you came to judge the news sources cited in your chart. I am a high school English teacher. I try to teach my students to verify… Read more »
Voice of tReason
Guest

I know Canada is basically invisible but if you’re going to include BBC, you might want to consider CBC.
Otherwise, love the graphic.

Marty Johnston
Guest
This is brilliant. Of course people will disagree on some aspects. But that’s life. I wanted to comment here, because of the amazing amount of stupid comments on the facebook version. An interesting experiment would be to chart the stupid facebook comments into four groups: * People who think your slant is way left (e.g. “CNN is communist”) * People who think you slant right (e.g. “HuffPo is Fascist.”) * People who think it’s funny to tell you you omitted something and then posting a link to some ironic outlet (e.g. a tiny, rural paper; a food blog; a special-interest… Read more »
melissa
Guest

this is fantastic. it helps I think for people to see it thanks !!

Susan
Guest

Just curious. Why is CBS News not on this list at all?

Carl
Guest
Thanks for your chart, which I feel is quite accurate. One intimately related issue regarding the worth of news sources is whether or not they cover stories that should be covered, or shouldn’t, and how visibly they cover them – lead stories with lots of information (and possibly analysis) or buried and with minimal information. For example, major news sources generally neglected or avoided covering the Bernie Sanders campaign until he finally was making such an impact that they had to say something about him. Meanwhile, Trump received coverage ad nauseam for saying and doing stupid things, which resulted in… Read more »
Clay
Guest

Very good points, Carl. Your response hearkens to the instinct I have, which is that we, as consumers of information, tend to order what we want to eat. That puts a complex burden on journalists, as well as a potential conflict of interest, particularly for those with The better intentions.

Michael
Guest
Excellent comment Carl. Indeed, I believe this is the most important topic for people to be thinking about right now. Our collective conception of information/news/truth is currently experiencing an existential crisis. This map by ‘votero’ is a great step in learning to see the leaves for the trees, so to speak. I’d like to take this map another step to see how MONEY influences this sources. Where do they get their funding? Advertising, sure. Subscriptions, sure. But who OWNS these companies? Who uses their wealth to support these companies? And how do those people relate to the larger geopolitical picture?… Read more »
Brandon Reynolds
Guest

I think that grouping people into liberal and conservative is narrow minded. You also don’t seem to grasp your own bias. But maybe none of us truly can.

PiedType
Guest

I wrote about something similar today, but my old Pew chart isn’t nearly as interesting as yours. May I have your permission to add yours to my post, with appropriate attribution and link?

Barbara
Guest
Good chart, but your post has one weird section: “They say ‘I don’t believe the mainstream media! They are owned by big corporations and do things for money!’ But where did they get that idea? From another media source.” Ownership of media is public record. You don’t need the media to learn that the media is owned by big corporations. For example, Comcast owns the following: NBC, Telemundo, CNBC, and over 20 tv stations. They also hold large stakes in MSNBC and The Weather Channel. National Amusements Incorporated controls almost 200 cable channels and over 100 radio stations. Disney owns… Read more »
James
Guest

It is particularly relevant to point out in this discussion that Fox News–of course–is corporate owned and for-profit as much as any of the networks.

meir
Guest

All Generalizations are False and youre chart is a genirlaization. Interesting article, the chart shows a gross generalization of a problematic topic. in the article you develop the subject and presents arguments, but part of the problem is that people do not share your article, but only the chart. They accept the chart without any critical thinking and see it as a fact. The problem is not the sources of the information but in the way read them.

Michael
Guest

Hi Votero, great visualization.

Q: Were you inspired by a version of this graphic being circulated by the far-right types?

I ask because I just came across a map like this on Twitter an hour our so before I saw yours.

Surprise, surprise, that version was total bullshit. (language. i know. srry.)

If you haven’t seen it I’ll try to hunt it down.

Anyways, just curious. Glad to find your site.

m.

Juror #8
Guest

Vanessa,

Where on the chart would you place the Drudge Report? I am definitely looking forward to seeing your rating criteria, and thank you in advance for taking the time to evaluate this problem.

Brad
Guest

This chart has generated interest and conversation on my Facebook wall today. The main thing that a few of us have been surprised about was the relative vertical ranking of Fox and MSNBC vs. CNN and USA Today (all of which feel about on par with one another to me). I realize you can’t defend every choice you made, but if there was a short rationale for what caused you to put them relative to one another in this way, we’d be curious.

Rebecca Kempe
Guest

Thank you for this chart! From what I’ve seen on Facebook, “upper bubble” types like me seem to appreciate it. I appreciate a visual guide to help people balance their bias and choose their sources.

Dex E. Tan
Guest
Hi, Your chart totally appealed to my left brain the moment it was shared with me! The succeeding thoughts however was the source. I wasn’t given the link to your website so it took a couple of days to find you. And like Mr. Greg Jenkins, even though the layout and placements are almost self-evident, I’m still curious as to your thinking and the charting process – so please let me know when you publish your blog post. With your permission, I would like to post an edited version on my FB page – with credit and link, of course.… Read more »
mwk
Guest

All generalizations are false; is a false statement.

mwk
Guest

The chart is a great example of the problem mentioned at the opening of the article. An inability to distinguish between good and bad info. The “great sources of news” were not able to make anything close to an accurate prediction of the election, while some in the “Just no” or “don’t read this” areas called it months in advance.
Great sources had bad info, and are called great sources by the author. The chart, to at least half of the voting population, is a joke. To the other half, it is just confirmation bias.

Nick Taranko
Guest

Glad to find the sourcing for this infographic – it got uploaded to imgur with no credit, and it’s been making the rounds that way.

I’m a librarian, and I got asked, “What’s the source for this? Can we trust it?”

I’m directing them to your page, and I’ll be a regular from here on out. Thank you so much for doing this.

@briangocial
Guest

Thank you so much for doing this! I too have been wrestling with how we navigate in a world where we can’t even agree on what news sources can be relied upon and trusted. Regardless whether one agrees or disagrees with the placement of any particular news source, you’ve created an invaluable tool to frame the discussion. A political Rorschach test of sorts. Looking forward to your next blog post explaining the methodology behind your conclusions.

Margaret
Guest

What does “Basic A F” mean on the left side?

Jim Wheeler
Guest
An interesting chart, Vanessa. I agree with most of it, but would argue with placing USA Today low on the quality scale. Just because the articles tend to be short does not equate in my mind with low quality. Further, I view it as quite valuable because they do a good deal of in-depth, original reporting on major issues of our times. One example that comes to mind was a comprehensive article on incarceration in America. I was a little disappointed that the New Yorker was not on your chart. I think it’s tops for quality but I recognize that… Read more »
Wheat Buck
Guest

Who spilled the beans about the gas tanks in the Ford Pinto?

Who first created false news about Firestone 500’s?

Who caught NBC faking the gas tank explosions on Chevy trucks?

Shucks, the balanced mind of “truth-in-middle” wants to know.

sully
Guest
DISCLAIMER: I have not completely read your chart. A highly regarded friend of mine told me to provide my opinion of whether or not it is accurate. I only read the ‘journalistic quality’ axis and ‘partisan bias’ axis. Unable to understand the axes, I said I would not read the chart until I read the source. What is your response to critics who say that you are spreading a ‘chart’ that is solely based on subjective opinion, but labeled as if there are reproducible scores associated with the x and y-axis? If you were trying to make an accurate, personal… Read more »
Jerry Staley
Guest

Sully-

Would you consider providing your Twitter address?

pmcd
Guest

What on earth do you mean by the scientific method being applied here? That term is so misused, widely misunderstood and thrown about in attempts to prop up questionable positions.

It’s a formidable task trying to get factual news as opposed to filtered facts. Not a bad chart. I don’t agree with it but I haven’t seen a better one.

Kim Coffee-Isaak
Guest
Thanks for this! looking forward to your explanation re how you developed it all. Is it possible to make something like this using facts vs opinions? I imagine it would be, but only after defining criteria and collecting data – tons of work! Anyway re your comment “Why is it that I can have such different views on the same subject or topic as someone else who lives in the same country?” I just came across a super helpful book intro that you may be interested in. It’s a great and it looks like it’s been around for awhile. http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/467716.html
MaryAnn
Guest

Only just saw votero’s News Quality chart shared by a friend today on FB. I, too, am searching for credible sources of information. The chapter from the book you linked was incredibly eye-opening for me. George Lakoff has vividly explained the differing world views and miscommunications between conservatives and liberals. It gave me a point of reference from which I may be able to understand viewpoints that I previously just suspected. Thank you for the link, not sure I can ponder the book in its entirety but maybe.

trackback

[…] would probably start with this chart that Vaness Otero, an attorney in Denver, developed. It’s a helpful visual that could be a […]

RobC
Guest

Thank you for this! A terrific starting point for thoughtful and (hopefully) civilized discussions. I look forward to reading your recent post on how you decided on the various placements.

One question… I can’t seen to make out the source located between David Wolfe and Addicting Info. I can see the word “Report”, but not what precedes it… 🙁

Thank you!

Jona
Guest

Whoa! This blog looks just like my old one! It’s on a totally different topic but it has pretty much the same layout and
design. Superb choice of colors!

trackback

[…] See the blog All Generalizations Are False […]

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[…] 2)      With all the talk about false news, this chart may be helpful in discerning the more consistently accurate news sources. http://www.allgeneralizationsarefalse.com/?p=53 […]

Dani
Guest

Hi! Under the creative commons license, would I be allowed to have this made poster size for my classroom? Alternatively, do you have any plans of producing this as a poster for purchase? Because I would love to be able to buy a high-quality version of it for my classroom. I teach government to high school seniors, and this is exactly the kind of information they need.

trackback

[…] at the following chart, produced in Nov. of 2016 (see here), which attempts to produce a guide for news […]

AndrewE
Guest

Thank you so much for your work on this — both the chart and the explanation of your methodology are so helpful!

I work in a school district that is wrestling with how to help students with these same issues. We used your chart as a starting place and tweaked it to include other sources our students regularly come across in research and on social media. Would love to a) credit you with the original format and b) share it with you and get feedback on our edits (if you’re willing!).

cyndi howald
Guest

I do not see Al Jazeera. Am i missing it?

John T. Vecchio
Guest

Thank you so much I showed this to one of my very right wing friends and he began to pick it apart. I told him that the point is to make you aware of the wide range of information. it is not important if you feel you must adjust the chart a few degrees to the right or left. but to become more aware of the extreme and distorted . To vet the information you receive is becoming more difficult this is great thanks

Suz
Guest

A friend called my attention to the fact that Time & Newsweek aren’t there. I realize you must get a TON of these sorts of requests, but if you’ve got the time (and energy – you must be running on coffee & 5 Hour by now!) would you mind adding them in?
Many thanks again for such a fantastic reference guide!

Ario F.
Guest

Where do you think Foreign Policy, New Republic, and/or The New Yorker fall?

trackback

[…] quelques investigations et fausse piste, j’ai dĂ©couvert l’article original News Quality de Vanessa Otero, (@vlotero sur Twitter), Patent Attorney de Denver, Colorado. (SpĂ©cialiste de la […]

Anonymous
Guest

Hi Vanessa, thanks for this resource! I wanted to share a couple other resources that may be of interest to you:

http://www.opensources.co/ – Created by communications professor Melissa Zimdars and librarians in light of the fake news discussions. She had started the original Google Doc that went viral post-election: https://docs.google.com/document/d/10eA5-mCZLSS4MQY5QGb5ewC3VAL6pLkT53V_81ZyitM/preview

http://www.allsides.com/bias/bias-ratings – A database that “exposes bias and provides multiple angles on the same story so you can quickly get the full picture, not just one slant.”

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[…] also came across this infographic. While it’s decent, I felt it wasn’t 100 percent accurate. It’s worth mentioning […]

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