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The Chart, Version 3.0: What, Exactly, Are We Reading?

Note: this is actually version 3.1 of The Chart. I made some minor changes from version 3.0, explained here:

Summary: What’s new in this chart:

  • I edited the categories on the vertical axis to more accurately describe the contents of the news sources ranked therein (long discussion below).
  • I stuffed as many sources (from both version 1.0 and 2.0, plus some new ones) on here as I could, in response to all the “what about ______ source” questions I got. Now the logos are pretty tiny. If you have a request for a ranking of a particular source, let me know in the comments.
  • I changed the subheading under “Hyper-Partisan” from “questionable journalistic value” to “expressly promotes views.” This is because “hyper-partisan” does not always mean that the facts reported in the stories are necessarily “questionable.” Some analysis sources in these columns do good fact-finding in support of their expressly partisan stances. I didn’t want anyone to think those sources were necessarily “bad” just because they hyper-partisan (though they could be “bad” for other reasons.
  • I added a key that indicates what the circles and ellipses mean. They mean that a source within a particular circle or ellipse can often have stories that fall within that circle/ellipse’s range. This is, of course, not true for all sources
  • Green/Yellow/Orange/Red Key. Within each square: Green is news, yellow is fair interpretations of the news, orange is unfair interpretations of the news, and red is nonsense damaging to public discourse.

Just read this one more thing: It’s best to think of the position of a source as a weighted average position of the stories within each source. That is, I rank some sources in a particular spot because most of its stories fall in that spot. However, I weight the ranking downward is if it has a significant number of stories (even if they are a minority) that fall in the orange or red areas. For example, if Daily Kos has 75% of its stories fall under yellow (e.g., “analysis,” and “opinion, fair”), but 25% fall under orange (selective, unfair, hyper-partisan), it is rated overall in the orange. I rank them like this is because, in my view, the orange and red-type content is damaging to the overall media landscape, and if a significant enough number of stories fall in that category, readers should rely on it less. This is a subjective judgment on my part, but I think it is defensible.

OK, you can go now unless you just really love reading about this media analysis stuff. News nerds, proceed for more discussion about ranking the news.

As I discussed in my post entitled “The Chart, Second Edition: What Makes a News Source Good?” the most accurate and helpful way to analyze a news source is to analyze its individual stories, and the most accurate way to analyze an individual story is to analyze its individual sentences. I recently started a blog series where I rank individual stories on this chart and provide a written analysis that scores the article itself on a sentence-by-sentence basis, and separately scores the title, graphics, lede, and other visual elements. See a couple of examples here. Categorizing and ranking the news is hard to do because there are so very many factors. But I’m convinced that the most accurate way to analyze and categorize news is to look as closely at it as possible, and measure everything about it that is measurable. I think we can improve our media landscape by doing this and coming up with novel and accurate ways to rank and score the news, and then teaching others how to do the same. If you like how I analyze articles in my blog series, and have a request for a particular article, let me know in the comments. I’m interested in talking about individual articles, and what makes them good and bad, with you.

As I’ve been analyzing articles on an element-by element, sentence-by-sentence basis, it became apparent to me that individual elements and sentences can be ranked or categorized in several ways, and that my chart needed some revisions for accuracy.

So far I have settled on at least three different dimensions, or metric, upon which an individual sentence can be ranked. These are 1) the Veracity metric, 2) the Expression metric, and 3) the Fairness metric

The primary way statements are currently evaluated in the news are on the basis of truthfulness, which is arguably the most important ranking metric. Several existing fact-checking sites, such as Politifact and Washington Post Fact Checker, use a scale to rate the veracity of statements; Politifact has six levels and Washington Post Fact Checker has four, reflecting that many statements are not entirely either true or false. I score each sentence on a similar “Veracity” metric, as follows:

  • True and Complete
  • Mostly True/ True but Incomplete
  • Mixed True and False
  • Mostly False or Misleading
  • False

Since there are many reputable organizations that do this type of fact-checking work, according to well-established industry standards, (see, e.g., Poynter International Fact Checking Network), I do not replicate this work myself but rather rely on these sources for fact checking.

It is valid and important to rate articles and statements for truthfulness. But it is apparent  that sentences can vary in quality in other ways. One way, which I discussed in my previous post (The Chart, Second Edition: What makes a News Source ‘Good’) is on what I call an “Expression” scale of fact-to-opinion. The Expression scale I use goes like this:

  • (Presented as) Fact
  • (Presented as) Fact/Analysis (or persuasively-worded fact)
  • (Presented as) Analysis (well-supported by fact, reasonable)
  • (Presented as) Analysis/Opinion (somewhat supported by fact)
  • (Presented as) Opinion (unsupported by facts or by highly disputed facts)

In ranking stories and sentences, I believe it is important to distinguish between fact, analysis, and opinion, and to value fact-reporting as more essential to news than either analysis or opinion. Opinion isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s important to distinguish that it is not news, which is why I rank it lower on the chart than analysis or fact reporting.

Note that the ranking here includes whether something is “presented as” fact, analysis, etc. This Expression scale focuses on the syntax and intent of the sentence, but not necessarily the absolute veracity. For example, a sentence could be presented as a fact but may be completely false or completely true. It wouldn’t be accurate to characterize a false statement, presented as fact, as an “opinion.” A sentence presented as opinion is one that provides a strong conclusion, but can’t truly be verified or debunked, because it is a conclusion based on too many individual things. I’ll write more on this metric separately, but for now, I submit that it is an important one because it is a second dimension of ranking that can be applied consistently to any sentence. Also, I submit that a false or misleading statement that is presented as a fact is more damaging to a sentence’s credibility than a false or misleading statement presented as mere opinion.

The need for another metric became apparent when asking the question “what is this sentence for?” of each and every sentence. Sometimes, a sentence that is completely true and presented as fact can strike a reader as biased for some reason. There are several ways in which a sentence can be “biased,” even if true. For example, sentences that are not relevant to the current story, or not timely, or that provide a quote out of context, can strike a reader as unfair because they appear to be inserted merely for the purpose of persuasion. It is true that readers can be persuaded by any kind of fact or opinion, but it seems “fair” to use certain facts and opinions to persuade while unfair to use other kinds.

I submit that the following characteristics of sentences can make them seem unfair:

-Not relevant to present story

-Not timely

-Ad hominem (personal) attacks


-Other character attacks

-Quotes inserted to prove the truth of what the speaker is saying

-Sentences including persuasive facts but which omit facts that would tend to prove the opposite point

-Emotionally-charged adjectives

-Any fact, analysis, or opinion statement that is based on false, misleading, or highly disputed premises

This is not an exhaustive list of what makes a sentence unfair, and I suspect that the more articles I analyze, the more accurate and comprehensive I can make this list over time. I welcome feedback on what other characteristics make a sentence unfair, and I’ll write more on this metric in the future. Admittedly, many of these factors have a subjective component. Some of the standards I used to make a call on whether a sentence was “fair” or unfair” are the same ones in the Federal Rules of Evidence (i.e., the ones that judges use to rule on objections in court). These rules define complex concepts such as relevance and permissible character evidence, and determine what is fair for a jury to consider in court. I have a sense that a similar set of comprehensive rules for legal evidence could be developed for journalism fairness. For now, these initial identifiers of fairness metric helped me distinguish the presence of unfair sentences in articles. I now use a “Fairness” metric in addition to the Veracity scale and the Expression scale. This metric only has two measures, and therefore requires a call to be made between:

  • Fair
  • Unfair

By identifying a percentage of sentences that were unfair, I was able to gain an additional perspective on what an overall article was doing, which helped me create some more accurate descriptions of types of articles on the vertical quality axis. In my previous chart (second edition), the fact-to-opinion metric was the primary basis for the vertical ranking descriptions, so it looked like this:

In using all three metrics, 1) the Veracity scale, 2), the fact-to-opinion Expression scale, and 3) the Fairness scale, I came up with what I believe are more accurate descriptions of article types, which looks like this:

As shown, the top three categories are the same, but the lower ranked categories are more specifically described than in the previous version. The new categories are “Opinion; Fair Persuasion,” “Selective or Incomplete Story; Unfair Persuasion,” “Propaganda/Contains Misleading Facts,” and “Contains Inaccurate/ Fabricated Info.” If you look at the news sources that fall into these categories, I think you’ll find that these descriptions more accurately describe many of the stories within the sources.

Thanks for reading about my media categorizing endeavors. I believe it is possible (though difficult) to categorize the news, and that doing so accurately is a worthy endeavor. In future posts and chart editions I’ll dive into other metrics I’ve been using and refining, such as those pertaining to partisanship, topic focus (e.g., story selection bias), and news source ownership.

If you would like a blank version for education purposes, here you go:

Third Edition Blank

And here is a lower-resolution version for download on mobile devices:

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489 Comments on "The Chart, Version 3.0: What, Exactly, Are We Reading?"

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Roy E Pardee

Thanks so much for your work on this–really good stuff.

I’m curious about how quantitative the metrics here are. Would you say this is closer to ordinal-scale information here (e.g., we know that CNN is to the left of The Economist, but can’t really tell if CNN is really *twice* as liberal-leaning as USA Today) or more like actual interval-level information? The neat symmetry is what makes me wonder–that seems too convenient to be real.



Have you considered doing some kind of rating scale for each news source? Since it would be virtually impossible to include every news source in this chart, maybe you could develop a rating equivalence that represents where they fall on the chart. For example InfoWars could be R4H, where R means it is Right of center, 4 because it is in the fourth column and H because it is in row H.


It seems weird to think of Reason as leaning conservative. But I suppose it publishes more stories that biased conservatives would like than those that biased liberals would like. Maybe it’s an average? I suppose that’s what comes of a one dimensional political scale.

But anyway, thanks for the great work!


Is your source data available? The text you analyzed and how you classified any given thing?

I couldn’t help but laugh at your chart. First of all, to put CNN in any kind of reputable catagory shows your own partisan bias. Some of them were caught on camera admitting to reporting “fake news” for ratings. Also, they have a heavy partisan bias to the left. Then you rank Fox News in a box that is harmful to the public? You cannot be serious! They may have a couple opinion shows, but they always give bith sides a chance to have their say. Why is that harmful? I think it’s quite the opposite especially when even their… Read more »

Agreed, it’s obvious this chart was made with extreme bias. It’s a great chart for liberals who watch the largest mainstream networks and would like to think that everyday Trump bashing is somehow “neutral.”


I really think you have enough specifics on the list that you ought to get rid of the generic “local news in a liberal city” and “local news in a conservative city.” I have no idea whether you would consider Denver “liberal” or “conservative,” and the Denver Post serves a broad area not easily characterized. And I would bet you haven’t sampled the paper’s coverage sufficiently — nothing like what you have done with other named sources.

Steve Gibson

Please consider adding the Talking Points Memo ( site founded by Josh Marshall. It focuses on national political news of interest to Democrats and muckraking. It grew from a political blog in late 2000 to a small reporting organization very influential to other journalists. A small set of editors helps it excel at fact checking and clear writing.t.

Max Thibodeaux
Vanessa– great chart! I’m elated that this exists in the universe. Would you consider replacing the word “liberal” with “progressive” in the bottom of the chart in order to accurately reflect the opposite of “conservative” which you have on the right side of the chart? Other alternatives seems even less fair (liberal — illiberal, liberal — conservative, un-conservative — conservative, etc.) Also, would you consider a version of the chart sans logos and with text only because a lot of noise is introduced by the logos that needn’t obscure the overall content? I will pledge $100 toward any graphic designer… Read more »

Great project. Thank you!!

Would love to see a future edition for podcasts. I’m getting more and more of my news analysis through podcasts.

Moira Walsh

thank you for this. If you had a page on Facebook, I would love to see your work on my feed, and I would share it.


This is an excellent chart, but I do believe, with Fox News and MSNBC you could divide their news programs from their “personality” or opinion shows – they would be different locations, I believe.
Also, since David Pecker has expressly came out as aggressively, fawngly pro-trump, with headlines/covers to match, I don’t think they are nearly as neutral as they used to be, but still belong on the bottom of the chart.
Thanks for the good work.


I love this! No RT?

Janice Lintz

Apparently, NBC and CNN are not as reliable as your chart indicates. See my article

Chris Shen

This chart is well reasoned and carefully thought out. I’m really glad to see it updated with more media outlets. It would be interesting to see a scatter plot of stories from a single media outlet over a 1 year period using your grading scale. Looking forward to 4.0!

Arend Abel
Your article lists several “characteristics of sentences can make them seem unfair,” including “Quotes inserted to prove the truth of what the speaker is saying.” While I think I understand the others, I’m not sure about this one. Are you talking about sources quoting *themselves* to demonstrate their own reliability, including a third party quoting a source to establish the same source’s reliability? Or are you talking about something else? The list of characteristics is fascinating to me, as a professional writer of text that straddles the boundary between fact and opinion, and that is expected to be “biased,” but… Read more »
Kimberly Morgan

I love this, and appreciate the hard work you have put into it. It serves as a wake-up call and reminds people that not everything they see reposted breathlessly is actually true. Where you get your news matters. There’s no way any of us can read all of it, so thinking people should ensure that they’re consuming not just pap that makes them feel justified and reinforced, but is actually factual and based in some objective reality. Thanks for making something so compact and understandable. I’m a fan and have been since the first edition of your chart came out!

Zack Nolastname

Hey, I know that you’ve posted that you’ve received a lot of requests lately, but I was curious about a variety of YouTube sources in particular :

The Young Turks
TYT Politics
TYT Nation
The Jimmy Dore Show
The Humanist Report
The Real News
The David Pakman Show
The Rational National
Thom Hartman
Sam Seder
Secular Talk

mike tomasi

they are all fake news far left leaning

Fascinating stuff, I have often counseled my friends and associates to avoid most news from the partisan extremes as its’ often utter self-serving balderdash. What would be interesting would be to look into what degree Corporate Influence skews an outlet’s editorial stance. But that would require adding a third axis to the matrix. I find the placement of the outlets be accurate, and better than the previous version. One of the things I have to keep in mind, and beware of, that one’s perception of the partisanship and veracity of an outlet is going to be perceived relative to where… Read more »

Thank you for your hard work. I love it. A minor design suggestion, next time you publish it, consider making the dashed lines a lighter grey or translucent. There is a lot of detail in your chart and since you added the colored boxes I think the heavy emphasis on the dashed lines isn’t as important as it otherwise would be. Keep up the good work!

Justin G. P.
I’m curious if this chart changes by country being reported on. For example, we would consider BBC to be a solid news source in the USA, but many people here in the UK complain of perceived bias on issues related to the UK. Similarly, Al Jazeera is well regarded internationally, but I suspect most would take its reporting of issues in Qatar with some amount of salt. Do you think that larger news sources (unlike local papers) become more accurate or unbiased the less they are related to the events reported on? Lastly, left/right divide is different by country… I… Read more »
Keith Wolcott

I host a website at where I have a Recent News listing. Your chart is very useful. I would like to post the jpg of your chart so that readers can learn to be more discerning about news sources. May I have permission to post it with the appropriate credit given?

Dr. Tonka

Meh. This is media theory without ever having read critical theory, or, having read it, ignored it. Start with some undergraduate level Chomsky and Hermann, and then spend some time in the Baudrillard Garden. Go watch a video or three from Adam Curtis. Over some coffee read Mark Fisher’s works. The centre, as described here, isn’t. It’s centre-right, and that’s being charitable. But that’s the skew of American Media, and its laughable defenders of the political-economy and status quo.



Thanks for this chart. I’ve been fascinated for a while now by “Natural News”. You include them (reasonably, I think) among the not-to-be-trusted sources on the far left. Mike Adams (the self-appointed “Health Ranger”), of Natural News, also seems to be the sole advertiser on, which is an unquestionably pro-Trump site full of questionable stories. Any thoughts on this apparent overlap between the far left and the far right?




Your green square had me in stitches. Never read “Manufacturing Consent”?

Mark Epstein

Why is there no review of opinion that is supported by facts?

Sharon Alexander

This is a pretty good start but unfortunately, most of the sources you have listed as middle of the road or “mainstream” are actually highly corporatist-biased. In effect, what that means is that there is a third dimension here which perhaps sets right wing and left wing approaches against each other without acknowledging the overwhelming power of the corporatist oligarchic state. Perhaps you would be willing to create a second chart dealing with this aspect of news bias.

Sharon Alexander

Also, where is Propublica, an excellent news source.

Robert Harris

Don’t see the TYT network on here, do you rank them? Thx

Ruben Galbraith
I think it would be neat to have a bucket that sits right above the apogee, named “Primary Sources” or similar. While there certainly will always be a place in the world for news reporting, digging up (errr, googling for…), reading through, and analyzing an actual source pieces of information is a refreshing exercise. I highly recommend it!! You could include things like Supreme Court transcripts, government budget reports, proposed legislature, and so on. This would be a step away from the original purpose of this wonderful chart (I’ll hold my “you need to move X and inch to the… Read more »
Ali Howes

I’m surprised that the Daily Mail is so close to the center….pretty much unreadable as a news source.

Erik Wilkinson
Thank-you, Vanessa, for the site, good stuff! 🙂 Similar to your model, I have been working on one that looks at presidential elections and how news sources historically label the declared candidates, in contrast to their rating from the American Conservative Union, American’s for Democratic Action, and in some cases, Barone’s Almanac of American Politics. Specifically, I am looking at the years 1980, 1988, 2000, 2008 & 2016 (open elections/no incumbent). An example would be how in 1988 a ~liberal Republican might be labeled “conservative” or a ~conservative Democrat labeled liberal, or vice-versa. Any advice on how I could make… Read more »
Socal Sam

This article is an excellent generalization of the general periodicals


What about religious news sources like National Catholic Register, Vatican News, etc. I’m more interested in reliability then political designation. Other sources like TBN, the 700 club etc. would also be interesting. Jewish and Islamic news sources also would be interesting.

This is a great update! Love the increasing rigor/thoughtfulness/clarity of each edition. I think you’ve hinted at something like this in the works, but I’d add a vote for a chart that provides more detail on fewer sources. I think visualizing the full range of programming/articles for the 10-15 most trafficked sources would be telling. It might create opportunity to separate out different shows on a network or distinguish between the bias of a paper’s reporting vs. their editorial page. And, I know you’ve got a long list, but for the purposes of helping folks spot biased sources, I think… Read more »
Daniel Leonard

Vanessa, have you considered a model that also illustrates the audience size of each network? Ie: what is the influence of this distribution?

Stephanie Tubman

Awesome work!

A question: How are you producing the x-axis metric? The y-axis is quality, but the end members of your x-axis also include quality. It seems like the last two categories on the x-axis are conflating quality and partisanship.

Ellen Sweeney

A friend recently shared an article from Where does Gatestone fall on this chart?


Natural News is mostly a do-yourself type site with a lot of Patriot-type connections. They’ve said a few times that they think Left-leaning politicians are seeking to keep them from using natural cures. The owner is notoriously a Tea Partier.

Lisa Creffield
While the infographic is interesting, it doesn’t give an accurate view of how extremist and the “extreme right” is compare to the “extreme left”, and how mainstream. Several of the left wing “Red Rectangle” sites appear to be health sites, not even political or general news sites, so I’m not even sure why they’re there (how is on there? You could probably find a NASCAR site that was equally right wing!) If you look at the ranking of the Red Rectangle sites: * NINE of the “right wing” Red Rectangle sites are in Alexa’s top 10,000 * FOUR of… Read more »
Lisa Creffield

And here’s a link to a table showing those rankings:comment image


Why did you leave Wikileaks out?

John McCafferty
All generalizations are false. My favorite antinomical statement. Anyway I recommend you add Deutsche Welle (English language) and the Straits Times to yor list. I use Al Jazeera, BBC, the Times and them to get an idea what’s going on in the World. Here’s an example from the Straits Times on dealing with urban flooding. It’s interesting that Atlanta is ding the same thing for the same reason…. p.s., I spent several years in southwest Asia, including the Arabian Peninsula, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Al Jazeera seemed to be the only news organization that usually got things right. JCM Colonel,… Read more »

Thanks very much for doing this. I’m going to print out a copy for reference and stay tuned for updates.

One of the things that bother me about social media is how often people share information from unreliable sources. I don’t want to be one of these people. And I want a good tool to give me a quick idea of the reliability or bias of a news source that’s new to me. This does the trick nicely. Great work!


Gateway pundit seems to have gotten a lot of attention these last couple days around the Moore story. Just had someone asking me about them as a source; was surprised not to see them listed.

Inanna Arthen

I love this chart–but ever since the first version I’ve been wondering what the red logo in the lower left corner (right above Occupy Democrats) is. I can’t read anything but the orange word “Report.” It’s not any of the “–Reports” I know of (that aren’t identifiable on the chart)–what is that logo? It’s totally unreadable on the chart. (The graphic designer who did that logo should find another line of work)

Pierrot Péladeau
Have issues with a hierarchy that puts “complex analysis” *below* “fact reporting” and even puts “analysis” besides (just *above*) “opinion” (opinions and journalistic analysises are very different things, indeed). Clearly, sources such as The Economist, The Guardian or The New Yorker which do explain contexts, significance and consequences should be considered as *superior* to news agencies (AP, AFP, Reuters, etc.) who mainly produce raw news material (including verbatims of pure PR bullshit) that not only feeds the work honorable news outlets but provides the fodder for fake news. Personally, I would have reversed the order of the 3 first lines… Read more »

I would just note that the order of Complex Analysis > Analysis > Opinion/fair persuasion isn’t quite right. The top category (closest to fact reporting) should be Analysis (or perhaps “Simple Analysis”, then Complex Analysis (which is necessarily tinted with opinion), then Opinion/fair persuasion.

Joseph Morris
I admire the amount of work and traction you’ve gotten with this, and the amount of effort you are putting into responding to comments. (Another IP attorney here, if that helps my credibility; also used to do data visualization as a computer programmer). Here’s my comments: (1) Another commenter mentioned WSJ’d editorial page being way right, but its news is accurate. This is true. But the data-display problem goes beyond WSJ. The Guardian, The Intercept, and even Mother Jones, have won awards for investigative hard news reporting, but certainly no one would argue that their editorial positions are liberal, often… Read more »

MSNBC is opinion but FOX is propaganda? That right there shows your bias. Both have opion shows and skew the reporting to thier side of the political spectrum so of you put them both in opinion you would be right.

Ricardo Hidalgto

Where is “The Atlantic”?

Philosopher Joe
Hi Vanessa, Thanks so much for this! It is a wonderful project, something that is important to me personally and something I could use in the classroom. I love too that it is a living project, guided by new information and input. I have a worry about where to put the National Enquirer. Maybe you have data that suggests that liberals buy that magazine as much as conservatives but if not, I think they should move to the right. There are at least two issues though. One is what kinds of stories are reported? Since the Enquirer has a LOT… Read more »
Dennis Sweatt

The Young Turks is missing from your chart. they track higher than Newsmax.